Review Summary: Right now, Linkin Park should just stick to whatever direction they want to pursue and come back when they are completely in control of their own material.
Linkin Park are a band that have never been known for their depth. Also, their cynical view on everything surrounding them pretty much started to wear off in the past couple of years, leading to a creative stagnancy. Their last two albums hinted at a crisis within the group and the constant change along with an almost lack of direction of these works only strengthening the idea. Reportedly, with Living Things
the guys finally feel comfortable in their own skin. Still, the result is again disorienting.
Musically, the sextet continue the electronic path they've undergone starting Minutes To Midnight
and flourished on their previous album, A Thousand Suns
, while also wanting to include some past influences, creating one general mess. This way some of the tracks work and sound interesting at the very least, while others barely feel like the Linkin Park we know or used to know. However, the odd thing is the better tracks here are the electro-pop ones and all the attempts to bring back the rage fail horribly. What's worse is the fact that Mike Shinoda's melancholic piano lines and Joe Hahn's synthesizers have completely monopolized LP's sound. Brad Delson's guitars are barely audible and when they are everything is heavily filtered through effects. There's no power guiding these tunes, Linkin Park sounding at their tamest yet. Also, the album feels overall unfinished and not because of its relatively short length (it spans at 36 minutes), but the fact that some songs are really sketchy, such as the aggro-electro rant that is "Victimized" or the short, unnecessary interlude,"Tinfoil".
"Lies Greed Misery" tries to connect the Hybrid Theory
era (maybe channeling the energy of their debut single, "One Step Closer") with the current electronic washes, further empowering the fact that Linkin Park are stuck at a crossroad between their earlier and recent output. They want to bring back the alienated fans and continue, at the same time, with their current musical path. Unfortunately, "Lies Greed Misery" doesn't succeed no matter what these guys might have tried. But, the worst Living Things
gives must be "Skin To Bone", where the guys devote an entire track to what might be one of the most used phrase in music "Ashes to ashes/Dust to dust", repeating it several times, along another non-sense line "Skin to bone/Steel to rust", over an electro-industrial background that doesn't suit them at all. This one doesn't tell anything lyrically, the song goes nowhere and is yet another useless addition to an already short record.
Still, Living Things
has some better moments to offer and those come at the very beginning only. The first string of tracks, "Lost In The Echo", "In My Remains" and "Burn It Down" all sport big arena choruses and sorrowful melodies, but Chester's tuneful voice fill nicely these bland numbers. The former might be their hardest hitting tune in a while, with audible guitars and some screaming vocals scattered around, while the latter two have similar drum beats and vocal melodies and Chester Bennington sounds as if he's been influenced a lot by Adele's live covered hit "Rolling In The Deep"(I always feel he's gonna sing at some point the chorus of Adele's track), along other mainstream artists, for instance Jared Leto. When put next to their earlier stuff, this pales in comparison, but taken into account their recent output, these cuts are some of their most interesting yet since Minutes To Midnight
As far as the lyrics go, the two vocalists are some of the most predictable lyricists on the market. Shinoda and Bennington deliver the same old shtick they've been ranting about for years now. The former's rapping is still ineffective and uninteresting, while the latter's whining (it can't be called raging anymore) ranges from the constant impending doom in his soul, such as: "We're building it up/To break it back down/We're building it up/To burn it down/We can't wait/To burn it to the ground.", to idiotic non-sense: "Right to left, left to right/Night to day and day to night/As the starlight fades to gray/I'll be watching far away/Right to left and left to right". This stagnation leaves the listener with the music only, which doesn't make up for their lack of lyrical creativity.
Right now, Linkin Park should just stick to whatever direction they want to pursue and come back when they are completely in control of their own material. They can't yet put their own ideas into an album and make something worthy out of everything they have tried along the years. Instead, they should step aside, take some time for their experiments to sink in because all of a sudden A Thousand Suns
doesn't sound that bad anymore.