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 while McCracken seems to have cleaned up his act, he's still riding a gonzo edge that gives his band's songs of naked desire a thrillingly precarious feel.
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Like their erstwhile pals from MCR, McCracken and company, even in their early, rawest heart-bleeding stages, always displayed a deft grasp of showmanship and a knack for addictively dramatic hooks — enough to land the group's 2004 sophomore effort, In Love and Death, at number six on the Billboard charts at its peak. The follow-up, 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 balladry to even 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 live for the kind of communal sing-along its audience craves.