Written by Natasha Heinz
By 2007, my friends and I had stopped sharing headphones. After two years of sitting side by side in classrooms or during breaks just so that we could listen to the same bands, we didn’t like the same kind of music anymore. One of us got into indie, the other went back to listening to pop and I was still a pop punk kid for the most part. That was also our sophomore year of high school and, the more we thought about our careers, the larger the threat we’d start drifting apart. But, then, The Used released Lies for the Liars on May 22, 2007.
Liars turned 10 a little less than a month ago and there was no big announcement, re-release or tour like The Used’s previous albums. It makes sense: Maybe Memories was their first full-length and In Love and Death still is their most famous one. But, for me personally, Liars is the band’s most important record. I remember what I felt listening to each of the songs back then, seeing the band live for the first time, talking to my friends non-stop about tracks like “Earthquake” and “Liar Liar”.
Sharing headphones again and watching Berth–the DVD that followed the band during the Liars recording process at producer John Feldmann’s studio— every Friday night brought my friends and I together again. Hell, it might be the reason that we still talk, even though we all went down completely different paths.
I don’t revisit this album as much as I should, but, in celebration of it turning 10, I decided to. Even though singles “The Bird and the Worm” and “Pretty Handsome Awkward” promised the band wasn’t going too far from the roots, it was easy to notice how much The Used grew up from the making of In Love and Death in 2004. During the past three years, they were on the cover of multiple magazines, their videos were played on MTV, and a group that used to open for them became the biggest band in the world (FYI, I’m talking about My Chemical Romance).
Laughing is, however, just one of the things Bert does better than other “screamo” singers that came after him.
Despite of the opening lyric from “Earthquake” (“She had an earthquake on her mind / I almost heard her cry out as I left her far behind / and knew the world was crashing down around her), Bert McCracken’s approach to love seemed more hopeful. Yes, he did ask a lover if they would smother him, but in a cute way? “Find a Way” and “With Me Tonight” suggest the singer was trying to leave his demons behind—and he had plenty of those to fight.
“Hospital” may be my favourite The Used track ever. There’s just something special about Bert’s laughter and how he incorporates it into a song. He’d done it before already on MCR’s “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison”, which give fans even more reasons to wonder if the diss track was aimed at Gerard Way.
Laughing is, however, just one of the things Bert does better than other “screamo” singers that came after him. Watching him scream at the microphone for a minute and, then, quickly whisper the last words to a song on the DVD made me understand why, although I loved The Used, not every screamo band would have the same effect in me.
There’s one more thing that makes this band different from others of the same genre and they explored in on Lies for the Liars, especially in tracks such as “Paralyzed”. It’s the bass. Yes, The Used plays guitar-driven, fast, angry songs. But bassist Jeph Howard manages to make them groovy at the same time. If you pay attention on him on stage, you’ll see him dancing around while Bert screams his heart out.
10 years later, my friends and I still talk, but it’s rarely about the past. We don’t reminisce about starting a band because of The Used and the bass we bought my friend from her birthday is never mentioned (she sold it a couple years ago to help pay for a backpacking trip). They might not remember the nights we spent listening to our favorite songs over and over again—I had long forgotten about them before I pressed play. And, when it all came crashing down, I pushed the sadness away, smiled and thought: isn’t it curious how a group of songs released over 10 years ago can tell me more about my life at that time than my own memories?