Linkin Park released their seventh album, One More Light, on May 19, 2017 after a few months of behind-the-scenes footage on their YouTube channel, along with a few standard lyric videos promoting its various tracks. For fans since their iconic debut, there were a few bumps along the way due to a shift in the band’s sound and members taking time to explore their new musical interests. After Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns, the band has continued into a space where they don’t try to do one or the other, but continue to blend, blend, blend, creating familiar yet new sounds group-wise, for the indecisive, open-minded listener. Does the new album stand up among Linkin Park’s rest?
“Nobody Can Save Me”
Linkin Park is true to their start here just a tad. No matter how far they seem to veer, they can’t help it. The song opens with a bit of a trap sound, with whirrs and eventual percussion, similar to many pop songs as of late (say Twenty One Pilots?) due to its easy-going feel on the surface. Lead singer Chester Bennington creates a soft open with heavy lyrics, “Waves break above my head/Headfirst hallucination,” a truth for many who face issues or situations only they can rescue themselves from, but not without difficulty!
“Good Goodbye (feat. Pusha T & Stormzy)”
The album eases into the next track, with Mike’s rapping, meshing well with the background percussion. The chorus continues with the polished sound that LP is known for post-A Thousand Suns. So polished in fact, that Pusha T’s lyrics, (“Were you there for him?/Did you care for him?/You were dead wrong”) seem to solidify the songs’s title; ridding yourself of toxic energy and negative influence seems to be hard at first but it’s even more difficult for the one who can’t, or refuses, to be of good spirit. Artist Stormzy asserts his own rise from the ashes (“Goodbye to the cold roads, I can’t die for my postcode/Young little Mike from the Gold Coast”), emphasizing how things can change when you’re able to purge hindrance from your life’s path.
“Talking to Myself”
This is some good retro sound here! With a keyboard building up those drums to an eventually addictive riff for the first thirty seconds (The Killers or Tame Impala feels), excitement builds as we give Bennington a chance to explain his side of the story on the way to chorus (“You keep running like the sky is falling/I can whisper, I can yell/But I know, yeah I know, yeah I know/I’m just talking to myself”). The second verse kicks it down a bit as the lyrics shape a person who is fed up with someone who doesn’t want to change. The final chorus brings it back to the feel of the first and second verse, as a final set of guitar strums repeat along with the echoed/fading vocals.
A very modern sounding track, but a highlight. The emphasized production elements and song structure are similar to popular radio sounds but an appeal that, in my opinion, centered around the lyrics (“If my armor breaks, I’ll fuse it back together/Battle symphony”) and Bennington’s vocals.
Now here we go! It’s got synth, it’s got a kick, an atmosphere, and Mike Shinoda giving his honest point of view with his vocals. “I was not mad at you, I was not trying to tear you down,” evokes the feeling of someone who is trying to apologize for being too harsh but had good intentions. To see someone’s point of view, their feelings and overall disposition when it comes to the ways of the world, is a born trait or a learned skill. Shinoda asserts the importance of getting what you need, and not always what you want. For most of us, being able to be told “I’m listening and I understand,” is a desire that, when fulfilled, brings comfort. The track’s arrangement seems simple in lyric structure, but the production itself is very smooth and somewhat anti-climatic, with the guitar, drums, keyboard, and hums that almost blend into one another. Somehow the sound isn’t too overbearing, and Shinoda’s vocals remain at the forefront until they fade away.
“Heavy (feat. Kiiara)”
This is another track with production evoking “Alternative pop” or the “dark” pop that seems to be popular for its wide-range appeal, for those who want to feel uplifted yet pensive at the same time. Goal achieved. Feature artist Kiiara is in her element with the production here and sings of a recurring issue, where they constantly attract all the emotional baggage and negative attention: “I know I’m not the center of the universe/But you keep spinning ’round me just the same.” Bennington finds himself speaking of things that seem to be too much to bear and shrouds away, until he gets to a declare, “I’m holding on/Why is everything so heavy?/Holding on, So much more than I can carry.” Bennington once again proves able to reach a point in his voice that is able to speak for those who don’t have much singing ability themselves. In this case, both he and Kiira lament over their toils but there’s a hint of hope that things can work out once the question is answered, or the weight finally drops off.
“Sorry For Now”
This song is a mish-mash of old, new, and production vibes that remind me of Owl City, Oasis, and maybe Skrillex, but it makes sense. However, it can be likened to a slow arrival into town. There is signature drumming by Rob Bourdon and Shinoda apologizing to those who aren’t able to be with him, as he sits on a plane, touring and making music: “Watching the wings cut through the clouds/Watching the raindrops blinking red and white/Thinking of you back on the ground” and they remain confused, angry, and hurt by his absence. Overall, nothing to be sorry about for this track, save for its complete simplicity and non-variety. Aside from the musing over decisions to leave, it just never fully takes off here. With honest and straightforward lyrics with a track as this one, however, it’s a “glass half full.” Just half!
This is a track where honesty from those able to notice warning signs when it may be too late. Bennington has been openly honest about his upbringing and using memories as a way to speak wisdom into his voice, and even songwriting. Though this song is over three minutes long, the hazy production somehow makes it seem like no time has at all. Perhaps this is deliberate as the track avoids boredom despite its simplicity, for example the slight difference in the second pre-chorus (“All you said to do was slow down, I remember, now I remember”), and an almost tongue in cheek use of “na na na na na” after a perspective of someone fooling themselves into believing a fresh hot stove is only lukewarm.
“One More Light”
The title track of the album emotes of a person being more than what we appear and even more after we pass to our loved ones. ”If a moment is all we are, we’re quicker, quicker/Who cares if one more light goes out?/Well I do.” Linkin Park never ceases to ease that one ballad that tugs a bit at your heartstrings and being the second to last on the album, it’s a solid way to close out an album that so far is one long thought. Each bit encompasses the majority of thoughts that have ever passed through our minds.
Sounding like it belongs in a Western, the lyrics speak of a person who perhaps made the wrong move once upon a time (“Sharp edges have consequences, I guess that I had to find out for myself/Sharp edges have consequences, now/Every scar is a story I can tell”) but has lived through the battle and rode off into the sunset with a tale to tell. The replay factor on this track is a good seven to eight marks out of ten; it’s got a guitar, well-structured lyrics and reliability. Simple, but perhaps too simple for some. As a closing track, its choice may seem weak, but as for the overall concept and direction of the album, (a person who has been through it, but continues to look back on their experiences for self-reflection or improvement) I’d say it’s where it needs to be.
Survey Says? On Trend.
Released during a time of year that may prove to be the one to for all reflections in our realities to come (2012 was an ‘end’ and this year may be a beginning), Linkin Park’s One More Light gives listeners a chance to ponder their own path toward self-improvement and positivity for themselves and other people, but it does leave some questions in terms of intricacy as a project overall. Music-wise, it’s consistent, straightforward, and polished, but perhaps a bit too polished for my tastes. One More Light is however, a project able to distinguish itself from prior releases post-2015 for the group. If you need a soundtrack while thinking over some big decisions or some time alone with all distractions lessened, this album is a perfect start for your journey.
Linkin Park ‘One More Light’ Review: Featured image courtesy of Linkin Park/Facebook