The press kit attached to Linkin Park’s latest asserts the record as the band’s “most powerful since its debut”; and hey, it was Rolling Stone who said it, so it must be true right? Wrong.
With the legendary Rick Rubin on board as producer, the band continues with their ‘classic’ formula: big guitar hooks, Chester Bennington’s screams, Mike Shinoda’s raps and a penchant for electronics; and while their press kit suggests a return to their roots; Living Things comes off as Linkin Park going through the motions.
In fact, that’s too fair. This album is bullshit with a million dollar budget.
The lyrics are a mix of vague clichés about recovering from emotional trauma, personal strength, and even vaguer socio-political nonsense. Chester sings “falling in the cracks of every broken heart/ digging through the wreckage of your disregard” on ‘In My Remains’; ‘Burn It Down’ throws out tired lines like “all that I needed/ was the one thing I couldn’t find.”
Lyrics this worn aren’t criminal, but when Shinoda boasts “I’m just a Banksy/ you’re a Brainwash/ get the picture” on ‘Until It Breaks’; things become laughable. Pink’s ‘Dear Mr. President’ had more to say than anything Linkin Park offer here.
In a Skrillex-obsessed world, one would expect Linkin Park’s mix of rock and roll with electronics to be on overdrive, instead we’re presented with the same old formula, with less engaging hooks.
On ‘Victimised’ the band harks back to their early vitriol; albeit with a ‘House of the Rising Sun’ vocal intro. They then follow with the ballad ‘Roads Untraveled’, which also sounds like ‘House of the Rising Sun’ – only for the entire track. Though ‘Powerless’ has an interesting enough verse in 7/8 time signature.
In the album’s liner notes, the requisite ‘thank you’s’ find each member acknowledging God, their family, their major label, their fans, etc.
When one of the guys thanks the rest of his band mates, he simply says “always a pleasure working with you;” and it’s this sentiment which besets the record. Living Things couldn’t feel safer, nor could it feel further from their Hybrid Theory energy they’d have you believe it’s a return to.
– Alastair Matcott