The Used – The Ocean of the Sky

The Ocean of the SkyThe Used’s EP has a couple decent tracks but is mostly an experiment in noise collages, and thus only of interest to superfans.

Released Jul. 9th on Hopeless Records

On last year’s Vulnerable, The Used pretty much followed the template of their last few records. With The Ocean of the Sky EP they’re experimenting a bit, mainly with ambient noise. Opener “Iddy Biddy” is classic The Used, though it feels a little grimier than usual which works in its favor. “Quixotica” is another big, dirty rocker that would sound at home on their last few records. Both tracks stick to the “gross pop” the band has made a signature of, full of big hooks and rock-out choruses accented by screechy sound effects. It’s a sound that matches the videos the band made for the 4 proper songs on this EP, all grainy news footage of a world gone mad. It’s worth noting that the drumming on these tracks sounds a lot stronger than on any of the band’s work from the past few years.

At the midpoint of the tracklist, “Though Criminal” is a ballad in the vein of “Find a Way” from 2007’s Lies for the Liars and Vulnerable‘s “Getting Over You”. It works for the most part, except for the spoken word part that’s so distorted it can’t be made out, and the squall it breaks down to in the bridge and at the finish. It’s after this point that the real experimenting begins: The title track is a midtempo anthem about being on the road (“I’ve never felt so far from home and I like it”) that does alright until about 3 minutes in where it descends into a mess of discordant noises, mostly squeals and some more spoken word gibberish for an additional 5 minutes. Edit that away and it’s a half-decent song, leave it in and it’s just annoying.

Then comes the 20-minute “Tethys”, an excursion in ambient noise, atmospherics, and tempo shifts. Named after the prehistoric ocean, it must be meant to evoke a feeling of inner space. It comes close at points, but mostly it’s just monotonous noise with an occasional squall that sort of sounds like Silent Hill shifting into its nightmare state. Moody at best and boring the whole way through, it’s an experiment barely worth mentioning.

The Used, Feb. 27, 2013 at the House of Blues San Diego

The Used, Feb. 27, 2013 at the House of Blues San Diego

In sum, The Ocean of the Sky has 2 tracks worth listening to (“Iddy Biddy” and “Quixotica”), and those aren’t much different from anything on the band’s full-lengths. For the most part the EP is an experimental aside. Anyone other than superfans isn’t missing anything by skipping it and waiting for the next LP.

2/5

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