The Used - Toxic Positivity. A skull appears to be screaming a stream of pink-tinged roses

The Used
Toxic Positivity LP

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Album number nine from The Used is rich and intricate. Toxic Positivity showcases how far this band have come in twenty years, since that stunning debut. Oddly, despite my fond memories of those opening bars of ‘Maybe Memories’, the modern sound maintains something of that raw material, though it’s also changed a great deal.

‘Worst I’ve Ever Been’ is a demonstration. It’s a fuller, thicker sound with a more rounded tone. It’s a filled-out smoother affair, but punchy and interesting nonetheless. ‘Don’t ask me for no fucking favours, I’m not anybody’s goddamn saviour,’ Bert McCracken rages. ‘No one can stop this wicked world from burning.’

It’s a gentler affair for ‘Numb’ (comparatively). It’s melodic and has a stomping chorus. From this Papa Roachy song, it segues into a Panic at the Disco adjacent ‘I Hate Everybody’. We all feel that way sometimes. This facet reappears later on, in ‘Dopamine’ and ‘Dancing With a Brick Wall’.

‘Pinky Swear’ goes full-anthemic, with huge riffs, screams, and a chorus that leaps out of nowhere. ‘Save me, I need to know what it feels like before I fade away!’ This is immediately one of my favourite songs on the album and they leave me wanting more with the 2:15 finish.

Listen to The Used – ‘Pinky Swear’.

The album continues to sway between these variations. If the slow kick of ‘Headspace’ doesn’t get lights in the air, ‘Cherry’ will – though both songs switch up the dynamic scale as they mature.

Languishing late on the album, ‘Top of the World’ is a really great song, with awesome lyrics. Punchy and fresh, the song really shines.

The indie-fied ‘House of Sand’ is an unusually light track, but it helps set the stage for the rather delightful ‘Giving Up’.

Who would love Toxic Positivity?

Honestly, this album touches on Panic at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and My Chemical Romance on the emo end and on Papa Roach, A, and even Amen on the rock and metal end. It’s perfectly happy spanning all this, while still delivering the good for fans. This technically makes it screamo, if you must put it in a box.

The album spins off in several different directions, so there’s a lot to choose from. After a couple of listens, you’ll find different tracks elevate themselves to your attention.

Listen to The Used – Top of the World.

Written by Fenton on

Steve Fenton writes in our music, words, and culture categories. He was Editor in Chief for The Mag and covered live music for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues throughout the UK alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve is also a technical writer and programmer and writes gothic fiction. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.

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