Breathtaking, awe-inspiring and masterful are just three words that come to mind when describing Vulnerable, the fifth studio album by Orem, Utah-based band The Used. It came out this past Monday and didn't take long to win me over. The Used is my favorite band, and has been since I was 16. No matter what they write it's always amazing and always different than what they produced before. I'd say the quartet are at their highest musical peak yet, and I hope they stay there for awhile.

The 12-track, five bonus track album found itself on its way back home to producer John Feldmann, who had a hand in the first three albums. It was also released via The Used's new record label, Hopeless Records. Each of their albums sound different, and Vulnerable is more on the gross pop/ rock/electronic side, slightly straying away from their past as a more hardcore, screamo band.

The album opens up with its first single, "I Come Alive," which definitely lives up to its name. It is a great introduction and a helps the listener get comfortable with the sound and style and eases them into the rest of the songs.

The Used tie this album in with the rest with a few familiar sounds and of course by using "sound effects and over dramatics," in addition to returning to some old motifs, such as love, death, loss, fire and failure, as well as achievement. Some titles and lyrics mirror those of past works, but are presented in a unique way. They can take general topics and turn them into such works of musical, melodic, metaphorical art that is beyond beautiful and shows their talent, potential and intelligence- a group that is no doubt "together burning bright."

The five extra tracks that are featured on the deluxe edition are like a grand finale of the album that include acoustic versions of three songs- "I Come Alive," "Put Me Out" and "Together Burning Bright." I actually prefer these versions over the originals, as they are not just slow-mo boring acoustics. They allow for the band to get even more creative with a few of their best songs ever, and they are highly successful at it. There are some other instrumentals, but Bert's voice rises above all and resonates the lyrics to the listener, putting them in a near trance. His acoustic version of "Put Me Out" is pure genius, and reminds me of the sound and style of the great Tom Waits. The album as a whole is just beyond what I could ever say in words and more, and as a writer, that's hard to accomplish. I never doubted my boys in The Used, though.

The album's sound, lyrics, tempo, style and all around personality is way above par. I hope the band continue to explore this direction, because it's making them even bigger, and the more people that are inspired and get to hear their messages and words of wisdom the better. My love affair with The Used goes deeper than any other relationship I will ever have with anyone, and not that I need to say it, but when they grace the Capital District with their presence on May 13, I just might die. I didn't think it was possible, but I love them even more now, and this album is the reason.

I give this album five guitars!