Review Summary: A return to form?
Although I know that this particular opinion is the equivilant to a federal crime in the Sputnik Community, I actually thought that "A Thousand Suns" was a good, if not at times great, album. Sure the album never quite accomplishes anything it sets out to accomplish, it's anthems are never quite anthemic enough, its experiments were often clunky and awkward, and although it attempted to sound genre defying, it nevertheless was still neatly suited to the radio-rock enviroment. But, damn, the very fact that a band so incapable of making a "Kid A" actually attempted making a "Kid A" is absolutely applaudable. The attempt, as laughable as it may have been, led to Linkin Park's most inspired songwriting of the bands career.
But none of that really matters when they follow it up with this ***
Linkin Park said that they were returning to their roots with this album, and no ***, they weren't kidding. Living Things isn't quite "Hybrid Theory", Linkin Park has been immersed in the stereotypical radio-rock too long to embrace the pure nu-metal grandiosity that filled "Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora". Music has moved on since then and Linkin Park has "moved on" as well...but not really.
This is the exact same music they've always done. They've taken the typical Linkin Park sound, wrangled it in a blender, and slopped it on an album, acting like this combination of the "best pieces" of their last four albums is an entirely new sound, and bull***
, it's the exact same dish they've been serving for years. I mean, sure, Linkin Park has converted their sound into a dense electro pop, but has an reinvention of sound ever been this inconsequential. The new sound literally changes nothing about their songwriting. You might be able to make the argument that the heavy lean towards electronics was necessary to keep Linkin Park cutting edge. But being cutting edge is a result of bold ideas, not conforming to the most naseously common production style of the era.
Regardless Linkin Park fans will probably be relatively pleased with this album. This is the closest thing they've made to "Hybrid Theory" since "Meteora", and I really have a healthy disdain for "Meteora", so this really is the best "Hybrid Theory" rip-off they've ever made. They've recaptured that energy that made that record so memorable. "Lost In The Echo","Lies Greed and Misery", and "Victimized", just sizzle. Sure the single "Burn It Down" is the worst single I've heard this year, and the ballads are really drab affairs-but hey-we're talking Linkin Park, whose keeping score? So I'm just going to go ahead and say it, after twelve years Linkin Park has finally produced a record that is a worthy predecessor to "Hybrid Theory". So what's missing?
Well I guess I'm not 13 years old anymore. It takes more then a decent pop hook to make me love a song now, rap rock no longer makes me orgasmically explode in pre-teen worship, Chester's angsty screams no longer makes me druel, and adolescent angst just doesn't make me feel much anymore. Sure, screaming "You try to take the best of me, go way." in 5th grade as I confronted Ben Sedrowski, the school bully who had a hobby of locking me into lockers, made me fill up with all kinds of bad-assery. But, while mind-screaming "Victimized, victimized, never again will I be victimized." would be just as relevant as I walk into my factory summer job, I would just feel childish.
And that's really the entire problem for the record. Linkin Park are in their mid-thirties, their fans are in their twenties, and what made "Hybrid Theory" such a relevant experience for so many people just isn't there anymore. Linkin Park is asking a lot of their fans. They're asking for the emotionally stunted 25 year old who still lives in their parents house, still eats fruit roll-ups at 2:30 every day for snack, and still sings Smash Mouth's "All Star" at the top of their lungs like it's actually a good song. The very fact that the band is able to fill their concerts with these types of fans is commendable, because that's a special type of fan-and I'm just not that special.