November 14, 2012

Linkin Park - Living Things (2012)

Linkin Park have come a long way, I feel. Sure, they were always pretty big, even in their earlier days, when they were a bunch of young guys screaming and rapping about teenage angst and "the pain inside". I am still a huge fan of their first two albums, even though their Re-Animation remix album didn't do much  for me. Then came that collab with Jay-Z which felt pretty tiresome, and after that I pretty much stopped following them entirely. I am only familiar with a few songs off of Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns and I didn't even know they had put out a new album this year until I actually forced myself to watch some videos on youtube. 

Well, turns out that Living Things is pretty damn fine. 

Like their more weird/unconventional/pretentious English counterparts, Muse, Linkin Park have also become aware that dubstep is a... thing. And that they should incorporate it in their music. I'm not sure how Linkin Park are labeled these days - alternative rock, nu-metal? Nevermind all that. The proper term for this is electronic music. It's really hard to distinguish between various instruments in their songs, because the spotlight is on Joe Hahn's electronics and on the two vocalists. The synths and effects are so IN YOUR FACE, it is very difficult to dig out one single guitar or bass line in all this madness. The drumming is also very simplistic and it sounds like it was made in Fruity Loops, which begs the question - what are the drummer, guitarist and bassist still doing in this band? Their contribution is next to nothing, as it is buried deep under the futuristic electronic sounds. By this point, it would make no difference if the Linkin Park roster would consist of Joe Hahn (drum programming/effects), Mike Shinoda (vocals) and Chester Bennington (vocals). In fact, I think the band would look much cooler as a trio, instead of having three other dudes with silly haircuts sitting around doing nothing. Here, allow me to demonstrate. 

Bum on the left, goofy-looking ginger on the right, goatee dude keeps staring at me, 2/10 wood not smash


I really think they just need to kick those three guys out in order to become the coolest band on earth. They already have everything else they need - they now sing about grandiose shit like explosions in the sky, burning stuff, glass castles and the war in Iraq and their music videos are really shiny and futuristic and the money they blow on each one could probably afford me a swimming pool full of Pringles. Mike and Chester are still a great vocal pair, alternating between socially-responsible white guy rapping and emotional singing, with the occasional angry scream thrown in, just as a reminder of Chester's previous style of vocal delivery. The production is top-notch, but I guess it is to be expected with a band of this magnitude.

So yeah, Living Things is a pretty sweet album. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did and I was glad to see that Linkin Park have evolved their sound even further. I think they have reached a pretty good formula for catchy arena songs that make the crowds go wild with excitement. They have a great thing going on and I hope I'll catch them live some day. In the meantime, I'll just watch more of  these expensive videos. 

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