‘Uncool’ veterans Linkin Park still living on

Living Things – Linkin Park’s fifth studio album

This article was first published at Youth Central.

For extra context, read about my shameless appreciation for Linkin Park here.

Every member of Generation Y has gone through a Linkin Park phase at some point in their youth.

For me, it was during my final years of primary school, when this metal-rap-electro outfit first burst onto the scene. LP couldn’t have had greater appeal: their songs were innovative and catchy, and represented the kind of teenage rebellion all kids claimed to aspire to. I wouldn’t have dared listen to LP in front of my parents, and that’s what made them so exciting.

But then something changed. For some reason, their credibility seemingly evaporated overnight. Their legions of fans disappeared and their cool value was reduced to zilch.

It wasn’t them that was changing, though. It was me. I thought I had outgrown the band. I thought I was getting too old for nu-metal, or whatever the music critics were calling it.

For much of the next decade I consciously ignored LP’s progress, preferring to experiment with eclectic genres and various subcultures. Only in the past 12 months have I bravely hit rewind, returning to the LP fan club like a sheep to its flock.

Living Things is confirmation that LP isn’t a spent force, proof that they’re a dynamic and ambitious genre-defying group.

Mike Shinoda’s iconic rap wordplay sets the album’s mood on opener “Lost In the Echo”, reassuring listeners of LP’s capabilities. Not long afterwards, the band rediscovers their hard edge on “Lies Greed Misery” and “Victimized”, which feature Chester Bennington’s screaming vocals without getting too pretentious.

“Roads Untraveled” turns the volume down a few levels, keeping the album Mum-friendly. “Skin to Bone” twists the volume knob back up, embracing electronica in much the same vein as Muse.

The first single, “Burn It Down”, fittingly combines all of the ingredients of the previous songs. The synthesiser intro is soon interrupted by a power rock melody before Bennington and Shinoda swap verses. Bennington’s compassionate vocals contrast well with Shinoda’s lyrical repartee, the very element that has kept LP so reliable after more than a decade of refining their craft.

Whereas LP’s previous two albums, Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns, saw the band push the limits of their songwriting capabilities, Living Things is more of a blast from the past. It’s certainly not as creative as its two predecessors, but it’s less likely to alienate their loyal fanbase.

Indeed, fans of each one of LP’s four previous records should find something in Living Things that excites them.

The biggest downside of this record is that it fails to maintain its intensity for the full 12 tracks. “Until It Breaks” is a disjointed experiment that would probably feel more at home as a b-side. The finale, “Powerless”, meanwhile, couldn’t have had a more fitting title. Bennington and co. seem to have run out of energy by this point.

With that said, there’s enough excitement in the opening five tracks alone on Living Things to justify giving this record a whirl. There’s also enough evidence there to suggest that LP will still be producing quality records for some time.

In many ways, the musical growth of Linkin Park over the past dozen years has mirrored my own. While LP has diversified, though, they’ve also stuck to their guns. In the face of mainstream success – a vice that has been the death of many a promising artist – LP have kept championing the genre they once pioneered, continuing to what they do best.