Go on an Emotional Journey with The Used’s ‘Toxic Positivity’
After 23 years together and nine-full length albums, it’s hard to believe that The Used would still have something new to offer. The release of the band’s 10th LP — Toxic Positivity — proves they are as strong as ever.
The LP takes the listener on an odyssey, through the life of a depressed, anxious person. It is raw, vulnerable and exhilarating.
The opening track — “Worst I’ve Ever Been” — throws the listener directly into the album with no warning. Bert McCracken — lead singer of The Used — begins the song by singing:
I’m the worst I’ve ever been
Cue the drugs and violence
Misery is eminent
Desolation’s kicking in
“Worst I’ve Ever Been” by The Used
It’s intense and perfectly sets up the journey meant to be taken through the album.
“Numb” follows the opening track and lulls the listener into a false sense of security with a calm first verse. However, the song quickly picks up, creating an adrenaline-pumping experience. The track returns to a calmer pace, but the anxiety is ingrained into the experience.
In the post-chorus, the band repeats “I feel” before finishing the sentence with “I feel numb.” That moment is so simple yet so powerful. The Used is able to turn seemingly simple songwriting into something more intense.
The song ends with McCracken asking the audience, “Does anybody else feel numb?” By doing so, he is inviting the listener to share the vulnerability of the album.
It makes sense that the band would choose this track as the lead single for the album. It perfectly encapsulates the world it is trying to bring the audience into — one of depression and a journey to becoming better. “Numb” represents the low moment where it feels like there is no out. The Used proves that there is.
The album wraps up with “Giving Up.”
While the title and previous tracks on the album may insinuate that this song will be a depressing goodbye, it is anything but. In an enlightening, energizing song that inspires hope even in the darkest times. McCracken shares:
And I’m done with the misery
Yeah, I’m done faking tragedies
‘Cause I’m not giving up on me
“Giving Up” by The Used
It’s almost hard to believe that the person singing “Heaven has a halo waiting for me” is the same one as “Worst I’ve Ever Been.” With Toxic Positivity, The Used is successful in creating an emotional journey.
Other songs that shine on the album are “Pinky Swear” and “Cherry.”
With songs such as “I Hate Everybody,” The Used stay true to its 2000s roots. The heavy guitar and drums transport listeners right back to the days of My Chemical Romance and Hot Topic. Guitarist Joey Bradford, who provides great work on the entire album, specifically shines on this track.
However, The Used doesn’t box itself into the past. The band isn’t trying to hold onto the 2000s despite keeping the sounds. It is always experimenting and growing in sound — just like the album’s message shows growth in a person.
The penultimate album track, “House of Sand,” sounds like something that could be heard on today’s top 100 radio. This track shows the band’s lyrical prowess, hitting the hardest out of all the tracks on the LP. McCracken sings:
Ashes falling all around to keep the sun from burning out
I’m watching it as it all falls down
My head there’s still a symphony, but no one sitting in their seats
I sing a silent melody
“House of Sand” by The Used
After 23 years in the business, The Used truly knows how to speak to an audience.
Known for its work on 2002’s The Used and 2004’s In Love and Death, Toxic Positivity is the band’s most cohesive work yet. 2000s emo icons, The Used have managed to preserve some of that nostalgia-inducing magic while staying fresh and experimental with Toxic Positivity.
The band was not always OK with being known as emo. In an interview with Kerrang, McCracken shared:
I used to cringe about that term ‘emo’, but I think we’ve swallowed it. We are emo. The resurgence it’s having is crazy. It’s not surprising, though. Music comes in waves. And it’s a perfect time for it. This music has always been about feelings and emotions: the things that feel tragic in people’s lives. Love is tragic. Death is tragic. Everything in-between can have that sense of tragedy, too. Everyone wants to feel something right now. That’s exactly what emo delivers.
Despite “Numb” as the lead single, Toxic Positivity provides all the feelings one could ask for.
Toxic Positivity is the perfect listen for any person who is struggling or has struggled with mental health. It is also the perfect album for any person that appreciates good music.
This summer, 2000s emo-rock-‘n’-roll dreams are coming true as The Used — made up of McCracken, Bradford, bassist Jepha and drummer Dan Whitesides — co-headlines a North American tour with Pierce The Veil. See the tour dates below:
Toxic Positivity is available to stream on all platforms. Listen to the LP here: