Linkin Park has become that band that people like to hate. It was bound to happen sooner or later. It isn’t hard to see an argument for it. They have had a somewhat reactionary career without a consistent sound for nearly 20 years now. When I say reactionary what I mean is, it seems like with each album they can’t decide who it’s for. Is it for themselves, their label or the fans?. Last time they had an album out they were touting it as their heaviest since ‘Hybrid Theory’ and now they have released their lightest as the follow-up.
For the most part, I have liked everything that Linkin Park have done. ‘A Thousand Suns’ is the only album of theirs I genuinely hate and with a passion at that. That’s not to say that I love everything else but I find that there is usually more to like than dislike with them. Which I think is what makes their newest album One More Light such a confusing prospect.
As I said ‘The Hunting Party’ the band’s last album was a step in a much heavier (by their standards) direction. Upon its release, it was well received and saw them head back to their roots.I’m not sure what changed but ‘One More Light’ doesn’t seem like a natural follow on from that.
This is a pop record through and through. If somebody blindfolded you and told you this was a Justin Bieber album I’m not convinced you’d know otherwise. I have nothing against pop music whatsoever. But what I do take issue with is music that sounds disingenuous.
There is nothing about ‘One More Light’ that sounds organic or even authentic. Musically it’s stilted and produced within in an inch of its life. Lyrically it’s embarrassing. It’s somewhat tragic that millionaires in their 40’s can’t write lyrics that don’t sound like they were ripped from a teenagers diary. ‘Halfway Right’ is a prime example of these, featuring the lyric “I scream at myself when there’s no one else to fight”. ‘Talking to Myself’ is in a similar vein and they are two of the worst offenders on an album that is full of them. I mean Chester Bennington has never been the greatest wordsmith but at least he made up for it in the past by displaying actual emotion.
Vocally on this album, Chester sounds like he is just reading the lines off a page. There is no semblance of emotion or conviction to anything he is saying. When Mike Shinoda turns up he sounds like he is sleepwalking through his verses. I would also like to know what the other members of the band were up to when this was recorded. All of the guitars and bass have been stripped out of this. ‘Sharp Edges’ the album closer features acoustic guitar but it seems a little too late by then.
There are some guest vocalists that try to inject some life here. Pusha T & Stormzy bring a little bit of colour to the otherwise anaemic ‘Good Goodbye’. Whereas on the somewhat ironically named ‘Heavy’ Kiiara duets with Chester and basically steals the track out from under him.
I’m all for bands experimenting and changing their sound. But this is a failure on almost every level, albeit a somewhat expensive one. This seems like a record that was written to appease a label. It is spineless and empty. There is absolutely nothing on here that will stay with you after you have finished listening to it, and certainly nothing that will make you want to go back. Linkin Park will still sell millions of records, but you have to wonder what the lasting effects will be on the band’s credibility.