“I don’t like to hold back, because that’s how you hurt yourself,” was spoken by Chester Bennington. Holding back is something Linkin Park always explored as a concept. Throughout 17 years, Linkin Park remained constant in a sea of variables. No matter what bands rose or fell, Linkin Park claimed their spot. Linkin Park never held back in terms of change. They were not afraid of changing their style, and as we know, often did. Electronic, alternative, nu-metal, the list goes on. One More Light
is the bands most daring album. After The Hunting Party
hinted at a possible return to their heavier roots, One More Light
takes a sharp left turn onto a horizon unexplored.
Mike Shinoda explained the concept behind One More Light
to be, “…we wanted to blend all of the sound and genres together in a way you can’t tell them apart." This statement is contradictory to a separate interview in which Shinoda stated, “One of the reasons why we chose 'Heavy' as the first single is because it is really the core sound of the album.” As readers can already see, this album is getting off to a rocky start. ‘Heavy’ was quite a brave move for Linkin Park to release. The song title almost taunted hardcore fans regarding their infatuation with Hybrid Theory
. Fans knew there was no going back to the angst-ridden days of the early 2000’s.
One More Light
clocks with 10 tracks and a little over 35 minutes. The album doesn’t overstay its welcome and contemplates themes of addiction, depression, and loneliness. It seems the central theme is finding light in a dark place. The music is soft, overly produced, and mellow. The vibe of the songs clashes with the dark and self-critical lyrics. “Sorry for Now” discusses the difficulty of having a family as well as touring. The subject apologizes to his family for missing a majority of their life, but does so in order for them to have one. As one can see, the story is very deep and personal, but the music gives a completely
different vibe. The music is light, airy, and upbeat. The intro with a bouncy synth riff, hip-hop backbeat, and other offsetting musical anomalies clash with, “there with a fire burning in your eyes, I only halfway apologized.”
The lyrics, however, are actually well written. The writing styles of Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda are the greatest strength of the record. Most of the songs have very powerful narratives, like ‘Invisible’ for example. “This is not black and white, only organized confusion. I’m just trying to get it right, and in spite of all I should’ve done…” talks about how a conversation can turn into an argument when both sides don’t understand each other. The self-titled track ‘One More Light’ is arguably the best written Linkin Park song in years. “The reminders pull the floor from your feet. In the kitchen, one more chair than you need, oh, and you’re angry. And you should be--it’s not fair. Just ‘cause you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”
‘One More Light’ cuts deep into the listener because every element of the song works. The somber music, breathtaking vocals, and agonizing story wrench the soul. Listeners can tell Bennington lived this story and can’t help but mourn for his tragedy. The ringing of the synth, weeps of the guitar, and desolate atmosphere submerse fans into a reflection of true loss. The moving live performance of ‘One More Light’ on Jimmy Kimmel best represents the song. When Chester belts out, “WELL I DO,” every fan goes silent in realization of just how real the song is.
As a whole, One More Light
doesn’t work. The album is a compilation of good songs with poor execution. One of the driving forces behind One More Light
was for the band to show maturity. Linkin Park was finished with the angst and wanted to focus more on the struggles of day-to-day life. They did so by turning to contemporary pop and executing powerful narratives with modernized pop beats. What confuses me is why bands believe maturing musically means writing pop. Why choose the genre most famous for appealing to kids and teens and write music aimed for adults? This doesn’t make sense to me.
Linkin Park isn’t the only band to do so. Shinedown did the same thing upon releasing Threat to Survival
. Both albums are highly similar in regards to the desire of musical maturity and style. Regardless, the sound and lyrics clash. The music if One More Light
suggests opposite of the lyrical theme. It’s hard for me to emote to the lyrics when I hear a Justin Bieber style backdrop to a song about feeling helplessly disengaged from reality and emotion. The elements simply don’t work together.
One More Light
was a horrible album that should have been a great album. Despite lyrical excellence, every other aspect falls flat. There aren’t many redeeming qualities aside from ‘One More Light.’ ‘Heavy’ is probably second best, but the zwieR.Z. cover I found on YouTube does the song more justice. I heavily suggest listening to that and compare it to the album version. Linkin Park had a good mindset going into One More Light
, but the album feels like a bad attempt at maintaining relevancy. Although many assume this was the goal of the record, that motivation seems redundant due to Linkin Park never fading out of the limelight. It’s sad to see One More Light
as the swan song for Chester Bennington, but our beginning quote raises a lot of questions; if holding back is how you hurt yourself, what was Chester withholding?
One More Light