May 24, 2024

New Fury Media

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Lost In The Echo(es): On ‘Living Things’, Linkin Park continued their hot streak with a personal album that pushed electronic rock to the forefront

Living Things, Linkin Park’s fifth full-length album, had the band in a bit of an identity crisis. At least that’s what many critics at the time seemed to think, but this time, Linkin Park had less than 2 years between their ambitious concept album A Thousand Suns and the release of Living Things. Perhaps the band knew what they were working towards all along.

While not often ranked among the band’s best albums, Living Things avoided overt political references and focused more on the aspect of the band that brought them success – relationships of the interpersonal kind. Stylistically, the album has a much more streamlined electronic rock sound compared to its expansive, genre-bending predecessor. Notably, it takes influences from their first four records to create something that actually inspired a new wave of electronic rock bands to emerge in their wake – Starset being a notable one.

Living Things does indeed have Linkin Park’s customary huge choruses, mostly through the first half of the album. While the hit singles “Burn It Down” and the introspective “Lost In The Echo” might seem a little too “safe” for many, the latter especially is a particularly engaging track that encapsulates all that LP did right on this record – one of Mike Shinoda’s best rapping performances and a massive Chester Bennington chorus that certainly isn’t muted. There’s also “In My Remains” (which lies between both the aforementioned songs), and it’s one that also could have been a fairly sizable hit single. What a chorus, honestly.

The album unfortunately isn’t as interesting or engaging across its 12 tracks, though. In particular, “Lies Greed Misery” is a confusing mess of a track with a chorus that never quite hits, while slower songs like “I’ll Be Gone”, while having a decent chorus, never quite hit with the energy that the album’s more experimental tracks sometimes have. Thankfully, there’s more interesting ideas that do abound later on.

The second half of the album is a bit more experimental, relatively speaking. For fans of the band’s earliest work, Linkin Park do at least manage to exhibit traces of their aggressive sound with the short metallic hip-hop blast of “Victimized”. While over all too soon, it does provide a welcome injection of energy into an album that can feel too mid-tempo at times. Not that said label is a bad thing, really. Other tracks like “Until It Breaks” and “Castle Of Glass” exhibit a more subdued hip-hop influence, filtered through the album’s electronic rock lens. Unlike what happened on Minutes To Midnight, Mike Shinoda’s rapping abilities are not underutilized here, thankfully. Album closer “Powerless” is a truly anthemic track, adding to the band’s penchant for solid and intriguing album closers. With some of Chester Bennington’s best vocal work and a more electronically-driven sound, it’s one that doesn’t seem to get enough love. In fact, it probably would’ve been a hit single had they released it as such.

While Living Things is indeed 12 tracks of electronic rock tunes that have more of a pop/electronic vibe than the band’s previous work, it’s a relative brief album that does still have a few huge singles behind it – and enough traces of their past to not alienate fans completely. However, they’d do an almost 180 degree turn on its follow-up, the return to roots The Hunting Party.

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