Warner Bros Records, Audio CD: Rs. 395
Rock-rap band Linkin Park changed musical direction in their last two albums (Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns). These had mellow, brooding tracks, and were almost easy listening compared to the raw sounds and inventive rap-rock of earlier albums Hybrid Theory and Meteora.
Their fifth studio album Living Things tries to blend the two directions, and is off to an uncertain start. Opening tracks ‘Lost in the Echo’ and ‘In My Remains’ highlight Joe Hahn’s scratchy turntables and Mike Shinoda’s rock guitar, but both tracks lack the power – even the confidence – of the band at their best (see: ‘Crawling’, Hybrid Theory).
They’re characterized by easy, unchallenging electronic sounds: depressingly, one chorus has the ring of Sean Kingston’s ‘Somebody call 911’.
The album picks up midway, with a section of songs that roughly alternate in terms of mood. ‘Lies greed misery’ is every bit the angry rant it sounds, with a sound reminiscent of ‘Faint’ from Meteora. But it’s juxtaposed against a curiously hopeful riff, which distracts. ‘Victimized’ has furious rapping by Mike Shinoda, and the Chester Bennington vocals we’ve known and loved.
On the other end of the spectrum, ‘Castles of glass’ suits a moody, mellow evening, as do the lullaby-like notes and piano of ‘Roads untraveled’. ‘I’ll be gone’ is uplifting, but suffers from the too-familiar structure: verse, chorus, bridge, and chorus. ‘Until it breaks’ is a rap, until it’s not: it suddenly takes on a choral, almost nursery rhyme-like section.
This is indeed a mix of sounds, as the band has been apparently intending. The band has toned down both their rock and rap elements, which, done right, could be a successful step towards a mature sound. But the result, in this case, is a bit too unsure of itself.
Lyrically, the album is preoccupied with death and fragility: coffins, remains, glass castles, decay – images along these lines form the bulk of the album. It doesn’t take on the vaguely political overtones that A Thousand Suns did.
Living Things has its moments: for fans of the two recent albums, as well as something for fans of the band’s older sound. The problem might be that these moments may not suffice.