Toxic Positivity, the latest album by The Used touches on the rollercoaster journey of living with mental health. The Used is an emo/screamo post-hardcore punk band that formed in 2000 in Orem, Utah. They released their self titled album in 2002 and this was their rise to fame. The Used was a major part in almost every emo kids life as they were growing into adolescence and their teen age years.
The Used is most known for their songs “The Bird and the Worm”, “The Taste of Ink” and “Pretty Handsome Awkward” to name a few.
The band is currently made up by Bert McCracken-lead vocals/piano/keyboard, Jeph Howard – bass/backing vocals, Dan Whitesides-drums/backing vocals and Joey Bradford – guitar/backing vocals. McCrackin is known for for using suicide, drug addition and even his political views as inspiration for his lyrics.
The Used recently released a new album Toxic Positivity in May 2023. This album is no different. This is truly the album all the elder emo’s have been waiting for! As a fan of The Used, I have always liked what they put out but this album has become my absolute favorite that they have released. Every single song is great in its own way, they all flow and tell a story that builds off each other. Each song has its own sound and vibe. Toxic Positivity was the album my elder emo had been searching and waiting for. It is everything I could have dreamed of and more!
Toxic Positivity really touches on every negative thought I’ve had, the anxiety and depression I fight daily. It was like this album was written for me. The album opens up with “Worst I’ve Ever Been”. This fast paced song instantly drew me in but the lyric are what really caught my ear. I was able to interpret this song as the I’m done saying yes anthem. It made me feel like I was finding my voice in learning how to say no to people. It’s the perfect song for those who have ever felt used by others and a way to find your voice and realizing that you’re worth more than how people can treat you. That it’s okay to say no.
The next song slows down slightly, not too much to still give you a fast paced and hard hitting melody. “Numb” touches on depression and the thoughts that coincide with. Not being able to feel anything and being numb to the world. It touches on the struggles of not wanting to participate and not being able to properly gather your thoughts. It really gives context into what depression may feel like for so many people.
The next song “I Hate Everyone” transitions into a medium tempo song with very staccato beats. The main theme is how falling in love is happening all around but for some reason it’s hard to find love. How everyone talks about how love is a drug but in reality is a chemical that we need to survive and fight through. That finding the right person may be tough for others and the struggle to find it is painful. It really brings out the fuller ability in the search for love.
“Pinky Swear” is back to being full paced but not as hard hitting. There is no major screaming in this song. It touches on that feeling of abandonment and not being good enough for someone with some of the lyrics saying to “save me me “ and to “change me”, trying to have someone mold them so they’ll never leave them. This song truly touches those fears of not being enough for someone or what they want. It really leaves you feeling vulnerable.
The album continues in this manner each song touching on a different aspect of mental health, each song creating its own story and feel. The album ends with their fast paced song , “Giving Up” that has hints of electronic beats to it.
This song was the perfect way to end this spectacular album. This songs brings the whole journey full circle. Stating that I will not give up on myself, which is true. When you’ve overcome the many battles with mental health there is always the realization that as a person we are worth the healing and effort to keep going. That we must continue our journey to make sure that heal and thrive so we do not lose ourself to our battles. This makes each and everyone stronger.
This album is the key to healing and realizing that our mental health makes us stronger and more equipped to face the world. The Used created something that is not only spectacular but eye opening. They’re creating a space to make it okay to express the ups and downs with mental health. They created a forum to showcase the struggles, thoughts and experiences everyone who battles with their Metal health on the daily goes through.
*Cover Image Courtesy of The Used and Big Picture Media