Written by Killian O’Neil
According to Google, the definition of Toxic Positivity is “the pressure to only display positive emotions, suppressing any negative emotions, feelings, reactions or experiences. ” That term has become a social norm in our society today; it’s absolutely sickening. Humans have been conditioned to ignore the truth of our feelings and pretend everything is okay to keep the status quo. So it is no surprise that The Used and John Feldman teamed together once again to produce an album and claimed to have fallen into it Toxic Positivity.
With Feldman and The Used in the same studio together again, the only certain thing is that the Magic will be made. Feldman has produced a handful of their albums, ranging from their self-debut album The Used in 2001 to their most recent release in 2020 called Heartwork. He is the Peanut butter to the band’s jelly and has been for over the last 23 years. They have worked hand in hand and produced hits like “The Bird and the Worm,” “I Caught Fire,” “Take it Away,” and many more. The Synergy between them is like no other I have ever encountered. Feldman is an essential keystone in the success and career of The Used, and how they create is so fluid and utterly Sympatico.
If you know anything about The Used, you know they like to push boundaries and speak their truth no matter how harsh it may come out or whom it may piss off. The band has used their career to express their most vulnerable moments and intimate Traumas they have been through and transmute them into a work of artistry. It reminds the rest of the world and their fans that nobody is alone. Toxic Positivity is no exception to this formula that the boys have used for the last 23 years with how they write music. This album showcases Frontman Bert Mccracken‘s “most sincere words he has ever written,” focusing on mental health and well-being over the last few years. On the coattails of the pandemic, Toxic Positivity claims to act as an outlet for The Used and express all of the struggles that have internally been going on for the last three years, which is a direct result of living in this weird hell that has become a life in a Pandemonium era.
This album keeps the integrity of everything that makes a Used album great. It plays as if someone took a bite of the sound from each album, remixed it, and decided to call it Toxic Positivity. The 11-track album pulls you in immediately; the first track, “Worst I’ve Ever Been,” kicks off with the old sounds of heavy drums and guitar. Bert even returned to his roots of screaming for a portion of this song. My two favorite songs off this album are “Pinky Swear” and “Top of the World,” which couldn’t be more opposite. If you’re looking for that OG sound from The Used, look no further; the song is filled with heavy riffs, drums, and tons of screaming. Part of the chorus is “Save me, I need to know what it feels like before I fade away, “it almost sounds like it could belong on their second album, Maybe Memories, with how it all flows together. The second song that was a pleasant surprise for me was “Top of the World,” As an avid listener; I was initially unsure. It starts with their signature drum sound and transitions into a light pop esq. I don’t know if it was the lyrics or just how catchy the hook is, but I can’t stop playing the song. Toxic Positivity is an album that directly explains the aftershock of Covid-19 and what they went through. In this deeply personal album, The Used shines a beacon of light with their raw gut-punching lyrics that you are, in fact, not alone in this vast universe. I highly suggest you take it for a spin.