Linkin Park are one of this millenniums biggest names in Rock music and I had pretty much checked out from the band after the release of their record braking Hybrid Theory. Its only a couple of years ago that I got around to Meteora and bar their Nu Metal records I have heard next to nothing from them. There change of direction never mustered much interest in me however this latest record has, for all the wrong reasons. Like a morbid curiosity I wanted to hear what the fuss was about and before I give you my thoughts I should say that I hold no artists to any ideals or expectations that says they can't change their sound, or pursue whatever their musical interests are. Sometimes suspicions are aroused that the music may not be the key factor in a change of sound. You or I can never know but something feels very disingenuous about this record.
Shedding skin and starting over, the groups sound is rewritten from scratch, leaving behind all traces of Rock and pursuing what I can only describe as yesterdays squeaky clean, overtly emotional, top 40 pop music. Chester sings in his softest of tones, everything oozing sweetly through slow, simple melodies with lyrics that make my skin crawl. Mind the pun, these lyrics are the sort that display "emotional depth" through a glorification of pain and sorrows without the resolve to get into the grit of whats really being sung about. It sounds vague, loose and very palatable. Weak features from Pusha T and Stormzy feel far out of place, like token rappers in a pop song, Mike Shinoda's one rap on "Good Goodbye" just lacks charisma or any measure of memorability. He does however show his singing voice on a couple others and I can't fault him on that, he has a decent, if very soft voice on him.
The instrumentals are chasing yesterdays sound, in a painful way. Many songs have the popular chirpy, high pitched spliced vocals stuttering away in the mix. Soft Dubstep synth murmur in places and most the songs drop in some trendy "woah oah oahs" gang shouts into the background. Its awful, tone deaf, self indulgent and really misses the mark where it walks in the shadows of others. The best thing about this record is never listening to it again. In fairness the first few tracks are reasonable but as it draws on it turns into torture, the lyrics especially. Whatever the bands motivations, it is questionable that so much of this record hinges on other peoples ideas and yesterdays pop sound.