Linkin Park’s two previous full-length albums are almost nothing alike. Where 2007’s Minutes To Midnight catered toward new children of modern rock radio aggression, 2010’s polarizing A Thousand Suns presented thematic depth and textured music punctuated by (albeit commonplace) political ideals, thus earning substantial critical praise for the band’s overall evolution. Few critics expected such success from the rap rock outfit, and even fewer expected an expansion on that success, but hardly anyone (outside of anti-LP skeptics) could have anticipated pure disaster to come — as it happens, 2012’s Living Things somehow unequivocally proves cutting room floors have brooms for a reason.
With the album’s lead single “Burn It Down” slinking across airwaves like a “What I’ve Done” rehash and the weightless “Lies Greed Misery” leaking unceremoniously to YouTube, it would appear that one of the last remnants of the “nu metal tribes” has gone soft with an LP brimming with broken leftovers and vapid ’80s electronics. It’s A Thousand Suns‘ evil baby sister. Want more rap? Mike Shinoda gets thrust into the foreground with haphazard results, seemingly tinged by a bad Depeche Mode impression (“Lost In The Echo”, “Until It Breaks”). Want more of Chester Bennington’s balladry? Take that, add spare parts from your childhood Speak-N-Spell, and voila: “In My Remains” and “I’ll Be Gone”. How about a sequel to “Burning In The Skies”? A little heavy-handedness from “Roads Untraveled” has you covered.
Our only quasi saving graces come from the short energetic burst amidst the Hybrid Theory-gazing “Victimized” and a severe lack of Mr. Bennington screaming over acoustic guitar a la “The Messenger”, which still makes my ears ache a little. Redemption is no longer the name of the game, however — it’s pure, unadulterated tolerance, a backpedal that will remind the faithful how easy it can be for a band to lose its way.
Breaking down barriers is not the forte of Top 40 rock music, but when you can’t tell the difference between a Linkin Park track and something produced by a plebeian confusing dance beats for real drums, something has to give. And we give Living Things a sparkling toss to the trash bin from downtown.
Essential Tracks: N/A