Review Summary: Despite boasting some impressive tracks, a good portion of the album comes off as either jarring or amateur.
Love them or hate them, a lot of us have to admit Linkin Park has a special place in our hearts. They served as a fantastic starting place for actually getting us into music. Their very accessible nu metal style was and still is extremely catchy and paved the way for our musical tastes. As their career went on, they had a very Radiohead like evolution with A Thousand Suns
because of their drastic and unexpected change in style to a more experimental electronic sound. Though the change was overwhelmingly polarizing, it showed a promising leap in maturity and made Linkin Park’s future look unpredictable which was a first for them. However, instead of capitalizing on this maturity they took a step downward and made Living Things
: A disappointingly short electronic rock album filled with plenty of great yet brief ideas.
As for those great ideas, “Victimized” remains the most disappointing track on here because of this reason. It’s a painfully short explosion of fantastic drumming, hard hitting guitar riffs and impressive screamed vocals. All of these amazing aspects are never to be seen again and the short nature of the track really leaves the listener craving more. The interlude “Tinfoil” also contains some wonderful ideas and if they expanded this track and added them into more of the album it could have been quite something. Barely over a minute, it’s a short burst of beautiful guitar distortion and elements of electronica. Even though these songs are quite enjoyable, they leave the listener feeling gipped and begging for more.
The listener can get a sense of what to expect by just looking at the track listing. None of the tracks on Living Things
break the four minute mark and two out of the twelve are under two minutes. This wouldn’t be a problem if the quality made up for the quantity, but no dice. The album has some tracks that are either strangely amateur or annoying. “In My Remains” has a solid chorus performance from Chester, but it doesn’t change how the guitar riffs are too simple and lack character. It’s quite amateur on a technical level and quite jarring coming from a band that has been in the music industry for more than ten years. “Burn It Down” features an unfortunate electronic opening and generic rhythm that reeks of radio gold. Chester’s performance one again remains admirable, but Mike’s rapping bridge comes off as laughably out of place given the type of instrumentals being played. When it comes to lyrical content Linkin Park has never really nailed it completely and this stands as no exception. “Lies Greed Misery’s” lyrics are so cringe worthy and will leave the listener begging for “Papercut’s” punchy lyrical content. Mike’s rapping also doesn’t work even in the slightest with the painful dubs going on in the background. It’s safe to say that when they fail on Living Things
they fail miserably, but when they give it right it can make for some very enjoyable tracks.
Album highlight “Castle Of Glass” showcases the Chester/Mike vocal interplay at its best and stands as one of the band’s best songs. Catchy lyrics, unique drumming and an atmospheric electronic vibe all make this track stand tall over the others. Their fantastic interplay carries over into the rock solid power ballad “Roads Untraveled” which showcases a refreshing change of pace from all the heaviness and electronics that came before. Chester also delivers a beautiful performance in the power ballad closer “Powerless.” In fact he manages to save some songs from being a total drag and “I’ll Be Gone” serves as a solid example. Despite some more boring guitar chords, Chester’s awe inspiring performance really delivers.
really epitomizes the word “average.” It’s not a terrible record, but also not an exceptional one that will win over any of the Linkin Park haters. In fact, it will make the haters hate even more if that even proves to be possible. Even though Living Things
has its fair share of impressive tracks, but doesn’t change how short and mundane a good portion on the album is. Though they got the experimental part right with A Thousand Suns
, their more electronic side they should stay away from. Hopefully their talent will be well placed on the next record.