Review Summary: A fond farewell to a friend.
A wise man once said, “Depression is being colorblind and constantly told how colorful the world is.” I’ve pondered this quote over the past year since Bennington’s death. While fans, critics, and Linkin Park have collected their thoughts about the frontman’s suicide, the cycle of grief has churned its wretched wheel. The sight of fans worldwide pouring their hearts out to a man so far away was breathtaking. It was like time stopped for a brief moment for everyone to say goodbye before casting lanterns to sea. I remember being invited to a Bennington memorial in South Florida last year during the summer. That’s when I returned to the quote above. Atticus was a wise man, yes, but there is a question to be asked: what if depression was telling you
how colorful the world is? That’s precisely what Chester Bennington did his entire career. Bennington painted masterpieces of misery each release, and when he departed, audiences saw the big picture; a man asking for a reason.
As with every story there are two sides. While Bennington’s will remain unwritten, Shinoda’s was documented within Post-Traumatic
. Expanding upon his EP of the same name, Post Traumatic
throws us into the spiral of grief. We see firsthand the raw emotions of Mike Shinoda falling down, picking himself up, and taking the first steps in moving on. We hear everything from the days after Bennington’s suicide to how the band felt about his solo release. Shinoda is open and candid regarding his struggles. It’s the first fans hear Shinoda speak for himself about something so life-changing as last summer. Post Traumatic
acts as a form of closure for both listeners and Mike Shinoda. It’s a haunting album about grief and empowerment, but at the same time, a tale of making one’s own path while learning how to walk.
is a pretty strong debut album. It beats to the same drum as its EP counterpart. The production is consistent among its whopping 16 tracks. The quality is sleek, crisp, and on-par with Linkin Park’s work. This is due to Mike Shinoda acting as producer in some capacity along the tracklist. “I used to sleep without waking up/In a dream I made from painted walls,” sings ‘Nothing Makes Sense.’ One of the more emotional tracks, ‘Nothing Makes Sense’ serves as Shinoda’s reaction to Bennington’s death. It plays on the anxious, confused emotions felt after the shocking revelation. The song has a barren atmosphere with deep synths repeating through the track. The slow and isolated music complements the urgency of verses well in relaying the distressful tone. Listeners get that emotional rush felt by Mike Shinoda throughout. It’s a good introduction into the newer side of the LP.
‘Lift Off’ is a big talking point in regards to Post Traumatic
. Combining the likes of Chino Moreno and Machine Gun Kelley, Mike Shinoda delivers a song about finding strength and identity after months of grief. Chino slows the song down during a dreamy chorus while Shinoda and Kelley tear up the verses. Much as the name suggests, the song has a futuristic tone with layers of instruments playing in the background. ‘Lift Off’ is one of the better tracks on Post-Traumatic
and livens up the closing portion of the record.” No, it’s not what I want but it had to be/I spent six months just rechargin' my battery,” Shinoda shreds about resting during Linkin Parks hiatus. “I'm off of the earth, on a ride alone,” sings Chino, “I'm driftin' away, out of time, I flow.”
‘Place to Start’ serves as the selling point for Post Traumatic
. It’s a powerful track about Shinoda contemplating life and its unpredictability. “Pointing fingers at villains but I'm the villain myself/Or am I out of conviction with no wind in the sail?” Shinoda asks himself. “Did somebody else define me?/Can I put the past behind me?” deals with Shinoda wondering whether or not Bennington defined his career and if he can excel beyond that. ‘Place to Start’ is arguably one of the best written songs of the album. It’s incredibly realistic in documenting the sea of thoughts that rushed over him in a short time. It’s heartbreaking to see a musician as strong as Shinoda show vulnerability with, “'Cause I'm tired of the fear that I can't control this/I'm tired of feeling like every next step's hopeless.”
Most of Traumatics
problems lie in its length. The album runs about 53 minutes with 16 tracks of varying quality. There’s a lot going on between Mike Shinoda’s emotional development, finding his place, and moving beyond Linkin Park. Most songs feel unnecessary, especially ones like ‘Can’t Hear You Now,’ ‘I.O.U.,’ and ‘Hold It Together’ that sounds similar to other songs featured. The LP comes across underwhelming overall. There aren’t any big takeaways, which is fine I guess. I wasn’t disappointed after finishing Post Traumatic
, but after 4 listens, there aren’t any grand moments to point out. The songs are just alright. Shinoda is still finding his footing as a solo artist and it shows in his work. You have big pop moments like ‘About You’ and more traditional numbers like ‘Crossing A Line’ to balance out. There’s a lot of potential in the album to hint at an eventual breakout. Shinoda is a talented artist who has a platform to shine.
“What’s the worst thing I've stolen? Probably little pieces of other people’s lives,” Bennington remarks, “Where I’ve either wasted their time or hurt them in some way. That’s the worst thing you can steal, the time of other people,” he continues, “You just can’t get that back
.” Post Traumatic
shows the little piece of life Chester stole from Mike Shinoda. Through the grief, depression, and confusion Shinoda faced, that fraction of himself dangled before his eyes each step of the way. By the end of the album, Shinoda found a way to remember the life and career of Linkin Park as well as pave the way for his own future. While it’s a winding and turbulent path so far, it’s still exclusive to him. Post Traumatic
tells this story very well, and for that, I enjoyed the experience. Even if the album runs too long and stumbles over itself at times, it still comes out okay in the end. It wasn’t trying to be anything more than a place to start, which in all honesty, is all Shinoda was really shooting for.
A Place to Start
Crossing A Line
Nothing Makes Sense
Promises I Can’t Keep
Running From My Shadow