Linkin Park Evolves Again On "Living Things"
Famous for a style that defies genre, the six-man group’s newest album, “Living Things,” officially released on iTunes on June 26th, reinvents their sound yet again.
This is their fifth studio album, and it builds on much more than what has come before. It not only hints at the angst of “Hybrid Theory” and “Meteora,” the political poetry of “Minutes to Midnight,” and the experimental jungle beats of “A Thousand Suns,” but also carries traces of front man and head songwriter Mike Shinoda’s stint doing film scoring for the Indonesian gun-fu flick “The Raid,” and even contains flashes reminiscent of their 8-bit dabbling with a Linkin Park-themed iPhone game “8-Bit Rebellion.”
Despite the new album's extensive array of mashups, it is something of a mystery as to where the pervasive folk rhythms and shuffles on "Living Things" came from.
This is the first time Linkin Park has moved in that direction and yet they somehow manage to blend it so seamlessly, you’d have thought they’d been doing it all along.
Perhaps as a symptom of the new direction they went with this album, one of the strengths of their earlier work, Shinoda’s rapping, which was often compared to The Roots' back in the day, seems to have suffered, or at very least evolved.
The pace is slower, the word patterns less incisive. The focus seems to be more on the driving harmonies than in any kind of verbal gymnastics.
Shinoda’s rapping is, at least, still well represented, in contrast to their “Minutes To Midnight” album, which had so little rapping in it that Shinoda embarked on a side project titled “The Rising Tied” with rappers Ryu and Tak of Styles of Beyond fame.
In keeping with this evolution, vocalist Chester Bennington’s provocative screams are much less frequent (with the exception of the track “Victimized,” whose chorus is essentially nothing but screams – but is also only a minute and forty-six seconds long).
The band has matured, not just as musicians, but as people too, and the emotional agitation of their earlier work has been replaced by deeper insight, perhaps as a result of the band’s extensive social activism, such as their Power the World campaign to raise funds for solar powered lights in areas of need.
They seem to have accepted that, as a Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum band, they are role models and though their minor-key grit still gives listeners something to sink their teeth into, more and more they seem to be offering major-key anthems and choruses for fans to rally around.
Hope and change are central themes for both Linkin Park and for "Living Things," as the lyric from “I’ll Be Gone” implies: “Let the sun fade out and another one rise.”
Reach Whitney Bratton here.