June 20th saw the release of Living Things; the fifth studio album by Linkin Park, which in my opinion is a triumphant comeback for them after their not so favored A Thousand Suns. Honestly, calling that album a letdown doesn’t come close to what it felt like for LP’s ardent fans.
Is this Linkin Park’s best album? Absolutely not!
Linkin Park is a name known to anyone in touch with music – like a river flowing for many years, one that has produced some great songs capable of moving millions. I, myself, personally started listening to them at the very early days of my music mania. And I have been a fan since.
My taste may have changed, nevertheless, the eager urge to love them and hear them again still had not faded away. A Thousand Suns was a total blow and I ended up throwing the album to the floor after I had given it a go (I am not lying!). I ended up thinking that Linkin Park was not “the” Linkin Park that I used to hear, not the makers of those great hits from their past albums like Hybrid Theory, Meteora and Minutes To Midnight that blew me away! So personally, I didn’t want to hear this new record, but I gave in when some of friends insisted that I try it out.
The outcome is: Living Things is a hell lot better than the last record!
I am loving Linkin Park again, and the whole album has put me under a trance. Living Things contains 12 songs; the whole album is stylized into the category of Rap Rock, Electronic Rock and Alternative Metal. This time around, sounding like Linkin Park means rethinking and re-approaching what initially made their music so fresh and powerful: Brad Delson’s crude, resolute electric guitars fused well with the electronic and hip-hop sensibilities of Joe Hahn and Mike Shinoda. The opening track to the album, “Lost In The Echo” kicks off hard and fast, with harsh electro beats and towering synths surging portentously beneath Shinoda’s dipping rhymes and Chester Bennington’s typical prostrate heartaches. The song is my most favorite from the album and is a perfect starter to take the full attention of its listener into hearing the whole album without stopping.
Though the whole album is not that pure bliss of zenith, but it partially fills the void left by (a bit from Minutes to Midnight) and A Thousand Suns. You might think that you are falling from a great height after listening to some of the disappointing tracks… The album mostly leans on the A Thousand Suns sound and a bit on Hybrid Theory’s. Glimpses of Hybrid Theory on tacks such as Lost in the Echo, Lies Greed Misery, and Victimized can be heard while the others from the album sound like heavier versions of tracks from A Thousand Suns.
However, I found Living Things to be much more inspired in a couple of ways; the lyrics are much more relatable to life than the ones from A Thousand Suns; I found myself actually concentrating on the lyrics on this album. The music seemed to be more in tune with Linkin Park’s form. I noticed the guitars again; I remember actually hearing an acoustic drum set in a couple of songs. It was such a relief to hear instruments being played than computer generated beats. Now by no means am I saying there are no hints of A Thousand Suns in this album, it’s packed with computerized beats and effects. They have just been toned down a lot adding a much needed “rock” sound to the electronic vibe of A Thousand Suns.
Like almost every album before it Living Things has songs that just don’t fit on the album and none of those are more apparent than Victimized. Dear Lord, the song is bad and the metal drums only add to the negative things I could say about it! In My Remains and Roads Untraveled both sound totally uninspired and feel as if they were thrown in just for the hell of it. Plus they are totally boring.
Living Things does have its highlights though. As I said earlier on, Lost in the Echo is the Linkin Park song I have been waiting for since Meteora came out; I found it to be the most appealing to a Linkin Park fan of the old ways. The resolute, soaring “In My Remains” (boasting just one of the album’s many arena-ready choruses) segues interestingly into the militaristic stomp of Burn it Down; It was the first single and Linkin Park is notorious for releasing good lead singles. Lies Greed Misery is a song that will make you go “What the fuck is this?” with its sputtering, robotic electro-roars- the first time you listen to it.
I found that the more I played it the more I liked it. Castles of Sand was like one of those sudden big surprises that I heard and I had fallen in love with it with after only two listens. Sadly all of these songs are on the first half of the album. The rest of the album is “meh” at best, not bad, just not fully engaging. Highly publicized guest Owen Pallett’s string arrangements lend bold cinematic undercurrents to the sweeping, majestic “I’ll Be Gone” (expect to hear a lot of this one all summer) and aggro-dub riffage of “Until It Breaks,” a late album highlight that spills out into an airy, ethereal orchestral outro featuring a surprisingly serene vocal turn from Mr. Delson.
It seems Linkin Park has finally found some footing from the stumbling of Minutes to Midnight and the downfall of A Thousand Suns. Is this Linkin Park’s best album? Absolutely not! That title will more than likely forever be with Hybrid Theory. It’s arguably their second best with either Minutes to Midnight or Meteora trailing depending on what Linkin Park fan you talk to. I found this album to be much more enjoyable and way less boring than A Thousand Suns was; the whole album’s resonant experimentalism to the same bold songwriting and keen ear for dynamics that punctuated their more popular, albeit less honed, earlier work.
Is it a game-changing masterwork? No, not that it should matter. Was it the album I’ve been waiting for? Absolutely not! But I am much more optimistic about Linkin Park than I have been in a long time.
I’d rate this album a 7.5 out of a possible 10. Get your copy of the album and then decide for yourself if it’s good enough or if it’s simply a step up from A Thousand Suns.