The Used - Lies for the Liars (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Used

Lies for the Liars (2007)


Despite breaking into mainstream audiences as far back as 2002, I will admit I've never heard a single song by the Used. However, I can relay what I've read from mid-teen girls on Warped Tour message boards in years passed that "The Used rox" and "omg bert is crazy!" So not really knowing what to expect upon slipping the hot pink disc into my computer, I was mildly impressed as the first measures of "The Ripper" blasted out heavy chords and aggressive drumming in hardcore or at least post-hardcore fashion through my speakers. The initial enjoyment quickly faded however, as vocalist Bert McCracken put forth the first sample of the embarrassingly bad lyricism to come: "Time kills, go ask Jesus / I'm done, makes no difference / Stare straight at the sun / I'm done, makes no difference." Honestly, how long did it take him to write that? I've heard MCs who never made it past middle school freestyle better verses than that. As if that wasn't bad enough, all of this was on top of a seizure-ready technotronic beat with one of those glitchy effects that sounds like a Spaniard rolling his "R"'s.

To be fair, though, McCracken does have a pretty good voice and seems to have no problem stringing together a catchy melody. Interestingly, some of the more memorable moments on the album are almost sheer pop. With its infusion of horns, piano, and glittery effects, "With Me Tonight" has all the pop sensibilities of Maroon 5, sans the impetus to dance. Instead, it falls back on the standard rock utility the band needs to maintain their credibility about three-fourths of the way through the song, verifiably losing something along the way. "Paralyzed" mimics this approach nearly verbatim, with horns and all, while "Find a Way"'s equally wussy stature relies on stock acoustic guitar plucking and lullaby keys. Here's a telling anecdote regarding the devolution of the band's personnel: In 2006, drummer Brandon Steineckert was "dismissed" from the band. He is now the drummer of Rancid. To replace him for the recording of Lies for the Liars the band brought in Dean Butterworth, known best for his work as the drummer of Good Charlotte.

Later on in Lies the band tries to rock again with "Liar Liar (Burn in Hell)," and again reveals more painfully awkward lyricism: "Liar, liar, house on fire / And the glass tastes messy / Chew it louder, bet your tummy hurts you / You motherfucker, mother never loved you." If your band can't write lyrics to save the life of you, you better have amazing musicianship to cover it up. If you don't have either, you're gonna need some kind of gimmick. And if your gimmick is being a "punk" band launched off a major label, you're probably up shit's creek. The mainstream has low standards; there is actually a point to developing in the underground, where people are smarter and expect higher quality. Hell, even the Bronx who were major label bait after only a handful of shows, had the presence of mind to cultivate and ripen through White Drugs and Ferret before stepping up to the big leagues. The Used, on the other hand, sound like they're still stuck in the sophomore slump that occurs when buzz wears off and the extra effort needed to get to the next level isn't present.

Devoid of any articulated substance, spattered with undeveloped musical creativity and riddled with inconsistency, Lies for the Liars is indeed sophomoric on numerous counts. You'll have no trouble finding this one at your local record store, though. It will most surely be labeled "Used."