I was one of the (seemingly overwhelming) majority who really didn't like Linkin Park's last album, 2010's A Thousand Suns. It was a jump too far from past territories, and whilst I have warmed to it ever so slightly since it's release it remains the black sheep of the Linkin Park album family. Needless to say it was hoped that the brand new album Living Things would mark a return to more familiar territory, but would they return to the sound that brought them their success, or continue down the path of A Thousand Suns?
Linkin Park - Living Things
The answer to this is that they've done neither. Parts of the album feel relatively close to the sound on certain parts of 2007's Minutes To Midnight, particularly on album opener and stand out track Lost In The Echo, which features all the classic successful elements of a Linkin Park song (Mike Shinoda's rapping, a big chorus and a healthy dose of Chester Bennington screaming as if his throat is going to remove itself from the rest of his body) albeit a more electronically influenced version of one and the lead single Burn It Down, which is a perfectly acceptable song but sounds like a watered down version of What I've Done.
Other tracks of interest are Victimised, a 1:45 brutal assault on the senses with Chester making good use of the powerful side of his voice that sold 20 million nu metal albums in the early 00's, In My Remains and Powerless, the album closing ballad which is very effectively done. One problem with the album is that many listeners may not make it to Powerless, as the second half of the album is considerably lacking in quality compared to the first with only the aforementioned Victimised worthy of piquing the listeners attention. Whilst there are no downright awful songs as there are on A Thousand Suns (though the eccentric Lies, Greed and Misery comes pretty close), the majority of the second half of the album doesn't do enough to hold the listeners attention.
Living Things shows that Linkin Park are yet again attempting to evolve their sound, whilst making efforts to please their original fans who were alienated by A Thousand Suns. The result is an album that is a big improvement over its predecessor, yet one that feels like its trying to do too many different things at once and isn't quite sure of its own identity. Linkin Park are more than successful enough to be able to experiment away and still sell albums by the bucketload (a rare and valuable commodity in todays music industry) and this latest experiment should be better received than A Thousand Suns, though some will still undoubtedly be disappointed. A return to the sound of Hybrid Theory and Meteora at this point is unlikely, but it will be interesting to see where they will go from here.