September 16, 2010

Test Spins: Linkin Park

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Returning after a long hiatus, Linkin Park angered many of its fans for turning to pop on their last album Minutes to Midnight (as well as selling their souls to Transformers). Instead of returning to form, the band continues to go against the grain in their experimental new album A Thousand Suns.

Although the new sounds are interesting, the songs suffer from over-production at the expense of sounding real, gaining an almost garage band quality.

First single “The Catalyst” is emblematic of this industrial sound. Underneath the heavy production lies great lyrics about the downfall of humanity, but Linkin Park’s voices sound soft and computerized as the instrumentation overshadows even their screaming. It’s also the most commercial song on the album by far — which says much about the oddity of other tracks like “Blackout” and “Robot Boy.” The former is the closest thing to old Linkin Park screamo, although the artificial instrumentation giving way to a melodic chorus will shake some heads. “Robot Boy” almost sounds like a Beatles track, but feels like album filler with a repetitive melody that never builds.

The album is most successful in its quieter moments. “Burning in the Skies” sounds like it could fit on Minutes to Midnight with its slight pop mentality, and also features a light instrumental. Closing track “The Messenger” is a refreshingly acoustic number, with screamo that fits its emotional message. It actually sounds realistic, which cannot be said for most of the record.

Artists must consistently evolve to sound interesting and relevant, and although experimentation is welcomed, Linkin Park simply take it too far. That is not to say it does not always work “Waiting For The End,” set to be the second single, adopts a reggae influence that results in a catchy track. However, these moments are sparse and don’t redeem the record as a whole. It may be interesting to hear live versions (Linkin Park’s VMA performance of “The Catalyst” lived up to the song’s potential), but as it stands, A Thousand Suns is a disappointing effort.


Original Author: Matt Samet