Review Summary: The sound of a band beginning to understand their own musical direction
Living Things is the sound of a band that, after several years of unsure experimentation, has reached a more solid creative grounding. Linkin Park have clearly emerged stronger from the murky depths of musical uncertainty. The records predecessor, A Thousand Suns, has proven to be a pivotal stepping stone in the direction of Living Things. The band has taken the general change of direction evident on A Thousand Suns as well as all of its strongest elements and rebuilt them on a much stronger foundation.
The record sees a return to more familiar lyrical themes from the bands back catalogue, such as disillusionment, anger and oppression. However, while some have viewed this as the band shying away from lyrical advancement in favour of familiar territory, this is not the case. While recognisable themes are weaved in throughout the record, there is a noticeable shift in the bands attitude toward these issues.
“And I’ve come back unshaken, let down, I’ve lived and let go, so you can let it be known, I don’t hold back, I hold my own” –Lost In The Echo
“I’ma be that nail in your coffin, sayin’ that I soften, I was duckin’ down to reload, so you can take your petty explanations, I don’t have the patience…” – Lies Greed Misery
These are just two examples of the band addressing similar issues as before, but from a very different place, from a place of strength and constructive anger. Any accusations that the band have relapsed into safer lyrical territory are unfounded. There is an overarching sense of maturity that can be felt throughout the album.
Complementing lyrical maturity is the equally important musical maturity, another box the band has ticked on this record. This is the most together album the band has released since Meteora, with Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns starting to seem almost like transitional records. These records were of a high quality but they cannot match the all-round strength of Living Things.
The albums opening track, Lost in the Echo, is a balls to the wall techno-rock hybrid vocally shared by Bennington and Shinoda. It acts as a fine introduction to the album and demonstrates the bands ability to experiment with sound without losing musical integrity. They will undoubtedly face backlash from fans of their early days because there is less focus on guitar, but what they have recorded carries the same power, though it is expressed through different means.
Personally I feel that Linkin Park have gone down the right road. Some view their experimentation as “selling out”. I see it as a band exploring different sounds and styles while holding on to the power and energy that makes their music what it is. Their songs carry the same weight they always have even if the formula itself has changed somewhat.
Many songs, such as I’ll Be Gone and Burn It Down, demonstrate this. However, there is great diversity to be found on this record. Roads Untraveled and Castle Of Glass show the bands softer side. Located between these tracks is the short Victimized which is a very interesting song. There is no way to describe its tempo or structure. It begins with a modest vocal line, followed swiftly by Bennington screaming himself into cardiac arrest, which leads into a rap from Shinoda and finishes with what can only be described as an angry-as-*** instrumental and vocal.
Some tracks on the album carry with them memories of albums past, with Lies Greed Misery being reminiscent of Blackout for example. It is almost a celebration of all things past and present. The band has drawn on their old sounds and blended them with a new and exciting change in direction. It really sounds like they have hit their creative stride and now, on their 5th album, they are really beginning to understand their craft. It is an exciting time to be a Linkin Park fan.