Release Date: May 19, 2023
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Punk
Label: Big Noise The Used, the emo and alt-rock legends have returned with their ninth and highly anticipated studio album, Toxic Positivity. The band is renowned for their emotive and raw approach to the alternative music scene, blending everything from emo, alternative rock, pop punk, punk rock, and post-hardcore. On the band's eleven brand new tracks, The Used tackle mental health and wellbeing in the way that fans have come to expect from the band -straightforward, in-your-face, destructive, and vulnerable all at once.
The band is currently living in all corners of the world. Bert in Australia, Jeph in New York, Dan in Utah, and Joey in Los Angeles. However, that hasn't stopped the band from creating what is, in Bert's own words, "the most sincere songs he's ever written." Additionally, Toxic Positivity was once again produced by the band's friend and constant collaborator Goldfinger vocalist and guitarist John Feldmann.
Bursting with intense energy and introspective lyrics from the heart, the record delves into the complex themes of mental health, societal pressures, and overall well-being. With their signature blend of aggressive instrumentals and vulnerable vocals, The Used delivers an album that confronts the lyrical concepts head-on.
Toxic Positivity immediately grabs your attention with its opening track, "Worst I've Ever Been." The song introduces a cacophony of crashing guitars and thunderous drums, setting the stage for a cathartic journey ahead. Lead vocalist Bert McCracken's voice resonates with emotion, as he pours his heart into every word, making the listener feel his anguish and determination.
The album's production is top-notch, with crisp and powerful instrumentation across the board. The band effortlessly balances heavy guitar riffs with melodic interludes, showcasing their musical prowess. Tracks like "Numb," "I Hate Everybody," and "Headspace" -to name a few tracks- exhibits the band's ability to seamlessly transition from aggressive and intense moments to softer, more introspective passages, allowing the emotions of each song to fully unfold further.
Toxic Positivity is undeniably powerful and doesn't once lose any form of momentum from track one to the end of track eleven. As the album continues on, tracks like "Cherry" and "Dancing With A Brick Wall" continue to showcase the band's emotive writing style, while blending around other elements from various other genres.
The album closes out with a major whirlwind, starting with the infectious, upbeat, and inspiring track "Top of the World." Then The Used delivers an acoustic guitar-driven number, "House of Sand," that once again tackles mental health and well-being and how everything around you feels like it's crashing around you. Finally, "Giving Up" is the final piece to send listeners away happy.
Overall, The Used's Toxic Positivity is a compelling and thought-provoking album that addresses mental health with authenticity and passion. Vocalist Bert McCracken tells all once again as a person who shares his journey of depression and anxiety candidly over the last twenty-three years. The album's lyrical depth and powerful instrumentation make it a must-listen for fans of The Used and anyone searching for music that speaks to the struggles of the human experience. "This record is quite tough for me to listen to," Bert shares, "because it's a reflection of times in my life that have been some of my lowest ever."