With each evolution of Linkin Park’s sound, it feels a case of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. Faulted for sticking to their core sound for too long, they were then met with criticism when they delved into more experimental territory. The build up to ‘Living Things’ didn’t calm the nerves of some who feared they were further distancing themselves from their roots; the likes of leaked track ‘Lies Greed Misery’ seemed strictly tailored for radio air play. But is it all bad?
Well, no it’s not. It does feel that Linkin Park have listened to calls for their older vibe, yet continued down their new direction, attempting to find that happy medium. There is a certain imbalance in this – the rock undertones are often overshadowed by copious electronic elements. Place most of these dub-fused tracks alongside others in the chart and they wouldn’t really stand out in terms of intensity and attack – it just feels underwhelming.
Opener ‘Lost In The Echo’ encompasses this idea of electronics taking precedence over their rockier tones, while Chester’s soaring vocals still render the song anthemic. This is the formula for much of the record – traces of a rock sound, an abundance of effects and a soaring chorus. A stand out track in terms of musicality is ‘Victimized’ because in the midst of middle-of-the-road, samey ideas, it’s different. Short and explosive, Mike’s rapping guides the listener through the verse as Chester screeches aggressively across the chorus. It might not be a general favourite track, but it’s one of the few truly unpredictable numbers.
Despite what seems like overriding criticism, ‘Living Things’ isn’t even bad. It’s catchy, it’s anthemic and it will prove highly popular; however, there is just something lacking. It’s enjoyable because, across the board, it’s okay, it’s fine; that’s exactly the problem – it’s just okay. Production-wise, this album is tight; it sounds huge and it sounds crisp, but it just feels that Linkin Park could have produced something far more exciting musically – they’re certainly capable of it.