Linkin Park has made music for about 12 years, and in that stretch of time have accumulated a giant fan base. However, in doing so, they really know how to unintentionally alienate half of them with every release. Whether you hated them for putting out a commercial success like Minutes to Midnight (like myself – I am in no ways saying I’m not included here), or hated them for putting out an experimenting with mixed electronics on A Thousand Suns. It seems like whatever they put out is pleasing one hundred percent of fans to the extremes of the majority either hating or loving whatever has been released.
The reason for the hating or loving of a Linkin Park album is due to their ever evolving sound. Most of the “fans” who hate an album is because it doesn’t sound like whatever their favorite past LP album is.
So instead of dissecting their dislikes and trying to evolve with the band, they would hop on message boards or Facebooks and ream the album out because of the general sounds they are hearing. Instead of using words like “lethargic,” “repetitive,” “abrasive,” or “extraneous,” they yell to the high heavens that they hate it because it’s not what they like from them, with varying degrees of ignorance attached.
But enough of my rant, time for a review. More specifically Linkin Park’s fifth studio album Living Things, an album that tries to hearken back to the days of Meteora and Hybrid Theory while bringing in the electronics of A Thousand Suns. What we get however is an album that is uncharacteristically lethargic, completely repetitive, and unnecessarily abrasive. There are flashes of greatness littered throughout, but none actually come together and make a great song.
The album starts with “Lost In The Echo,” a synth-heavy rap-rock intro that is the closest song on the album to please all fans. “In My Remains” and the first single “Burn It Down” have very similar keyboard parts, the latter of which breaks away in comparisons when rapper Mike Shinoda spits an unnecessary 8 bar phrase in the middle of the song. Arguably, the best song on Living Things is “Castle of Glass,” a new age version of what “Another Brick In The Wall” would be today (just not as good).
Other than those four, none of the other songs on Living Things evokes any good emotions whatsoever. “Lies Greed Misery” is the “Wretches and Kings” of the album, with Shinoda rapping rebellious cliches over a rather plain electronic hip-hop beat. “Victimized” is an under two minute rushed punk-rap (…sure…) that really shouldn’t hold any place on this album. Then on, the songs are unremarkable and forgettable. Even the melodic closer “Powerless” loses me on the lyrics alone. Not that Linkin Park as a whole have ever been really lyrical, but it just falls off the deep end late in the 37 minutes this album takes to listen to.
However, the most consistent thing on this album is lead singer Chester Bennington’s voice. Not only can he sing the clean parts well, but he can still scream (a welcome addition to Living Things) with the best post-hardcore bands out there. Chester makes those shining moments on this album truly shine, no matter how dull the actual song is. As a whole, Living Things just didn’t feel consistent. Instead, we get a scattered array of rebellious feelings that should appeal to someone out there somewhere. This album might have a track or two on here for both sides of their fan base, but as a whole doesn’t align with any of their previous works.
Linkin Park have all the necesary tools to put out one fantastic album, something that at the end of their careers we can look back on and say “Wow, that was great.” Linkin Park has yet to do so. Now five albums in, their inconsistency to please all of their fans is now starting to reflect the music that they are putting out, with Living Things being a prime example of that. I don’t know if a label change – or becoming independent all together – could change their sound for the ultimate better, to give us the fans something we all have been clamoring for; a great album. Until we get that, we always have their back catalog – or at least a mix of sorts.
Final Grade: C-
Go Download: “Castle Of Glass”