A few years back, The Used's Bert McCracken and My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way were the enfants terribles of the '00s post-emo/post-whatever world. The duo shared a serious dark streak and a fuck-it-all attitude, seemingly inhaling substances by the gallon and sharing a kind of symbiotic man-bond that defied definition. But three years ago, Way went sober. And although McCracken seems to have cleaned up his act, he's still riding a gonzo edge that gives his band's hymns to naked desire a thrillingly precarious feel.
Like erstwhile pals MCR, even in their early, rawest heart-bleeding stages, McCracken and company always displayed a deft grasp of showmanship and a knack for plunging hooks. Enough so to land the group's 2004 sophomore effort, In Love and Death, at number six on the Billboard charts. The followup, Lies for the Liars, didn't drop until earlier this year, but it was worth the wait. Steeped throughout in an almost glammy melodrama, it's a slick trip from yelling punky rock to treacly balladry to spaced-out proggy moments full of trippy guest diva vocals. The best moments come, as expected, in the form of gut-busting anthems of hurt and revenge. But the biggest hallmark of Lies for the Liars is its impressive production, a whip-smart, intricate smashdown of track upon track of tiny sound details. It will be interesting to see how the band translates this album live for the kind of communal sing-along its audience craves.
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