Warner Bros/Machine Shop Recordings - out now
NOT all bands can do what Foo Fighters did and release one of their best albums almost two decades into their career. Linkin Park are no exception.
It has been 12 years since 'Hybrid Theory' and oh boy does the band's latest offering 'Living Things' reflect that - gone is the primal anger of crunching guitar to be replaced by electronica and reverb, slick spoken word lyrics replaced by more toned-down rap. There are similarities with their earlier work - song titles like 'Victimised', 'Until It Breaks' and 'Powerless' and lyrics which reflect "promises broken" prove that this band still carry the emo candle.
In a way, this album is simply about growing up, not necessarily the lyrical content but the band members' journey (that dreaded word). This is clearly a band which has decided not to re-hash its musical heritage, and you cannot fail to appreciate that they have become much more knowledgable about production - the more you listen to 'Living Things' the more facets and effects you notice which have been lobbed at it.
Upon first listening I was pretty impressed by this. Songs like 'In My Remains' and 'Burn It Down' are very skilfully put together and will sound great on the next Transformers soundtrack. Indeed I felt oddly proud of the band for not doing what so many bands have done recently and impersonating their earlier selves with embarrassing results.
However the album quickly becomes quite annoying and whiny in a way which 'Hybrid Theory' and to a lesser extent 'Meteora' did not.
It's worth remembering that the music industry has drastically altered since the turn of the millennium - musical genres have merged and taken from one another so much that the mainstream pop charts are a huge amalgamation of influences and rip-offs.
That in turn has an effect on how a modern listener interprets latter-day Linkin Park. It's easy to think of 'Hybrid Theory' as their classic work, true to its genre (though it was fairly tame even then), and that 'Living Things' is simply pandering to modern mainstream culture. However that would be more than slightly unfair to Linkin Park, who in reality have adapted their original sound and clearly incorporated an array of effects which simply weren't available to a metal band 12 years ago.
None of this will matter to the majority of their fans, though. Listening to tracks like 'Lies Greed Misery' you can hear the nails in the band's musical coffin. They have changed so much in the last decade that if anything will alienate their original fan base, this is it.
I'm just surprised there's no dubstep.
See full story in the Chester Leader