Review Summary: Linkin Park is back with a new sound and a far less aggressive lyrical approach. While "Living Things" may not be exactly like their old work, this is still fun and atmospheric album fans will enjoy!
Linkin Park's "Living Things" is really the record fans would have expected to be released after "Meteora." After a very long period of politically emotional and electronically experimental releases, the band's fifth studio album is a welcome return to the classical sound we loved a decade ago. Gone is the profanity and political undertones of "A Thousand Suns" and "Minutes to Midnight" and back are the more personal and confessional lyrics of past songs by the band such as With You and In the End. There's no anger or frustration in the lyrics. In fact, the lyrics are very self-reflective. I'll be honest, it's a good break-up album. If you have a girlfriend that treats you like crap, you might relate to quite a bit of this record.
Burn it Down is the first single and it does a good job expressing the atmosphere of the rest of the album. There are a lot of electronic tones and atmospheric synthesizers spreading endlessly in all directions. The production is loud and full; the sound is impressive. Unlike the band's debut and sophomore records: "Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora," A lot of the percussion is electronic. A real set of drums is not completely absent, but rather a compliment to the computerized bells and whistles. This is not a bad thing. If you look back, the band's almost universally scorned third release "Minutes to Midnight" was very bare-bones rock album with little electronic atmosphere at all. There was Shadow of the Day and What I've Done, but as a whole "Minutes" was an aggressive, sweaty, confrontational and - at times - unintentionally humorous expression of emotion. Think of "Living Things" as cool air blowing in your home on a hot summer day. It's so much easier to listen to than previous albums. The second single: Lies, Greed and Misery attempts to raise the temperature with an extreme chorus and succeeds. Lost in the Echo and In My Remains are beautiful songs that open the album well. They are lyrically written very well!
I'll Be Gone and Castle of Glass continue to carry you on an atmospheric ride towards the middle of the album where things start to change in Victimized, Roads Untraveled and Skin to Bone. Unfortunately, this is where the album slips and begins to sleep a bit. Victimized gets your hopes up with fast percussion and a huge anthem-like sound...but it suddenly ends and you are listening to a very slow and mood building Roads Untraveled. For me, this song is where the excitement ends. I loved what it tries to do with a somewhat haunting lullaby sung by Shinoda. It captures your attention and prepares you for Skin to Bone which sounds more like a transition track that once belonged on "A Thousand Suns." I liked what Bennington tried to do with his vocals in this song, but the song still ends up feeling more filler than killer.
Powerless is a mixed bag of good and bad for me. I'm used to songs like Numb, Pushing Me Away and The Catalyst ending Linkin Park albums, but this song is the most weak of the bunch. I love the music, but the writing is a bit too simple; something heavier could have probably been a better fit or an additional track.
Still, all in all, Living Things is an excellent album. Just because one or two of the closing tracks stumble in the realm of light experimentation...This is still a fun, gripping, atmospheric and well written album by a talented band. Linkin Park hit a rough patch when they decided to expand their sound and writing to fit a more strong and controversial image. I was never offended by the band's political records, but this is by far a much more fan friendly release that will pollute ESPN channels for months to come.