Sound — 7
"Living Things" is the fifth studio album by Linkin Park, which includes 12 tracks and with a total run time of just under 37 minutes. The album was produced by Rick Rubin in partnership with vocalist, Mike Shinoda, the same as their most recently 2 releases. The tell-tale electronic elements of Linkin Park are definitely present in this album, but mostly used to good effect to enhance the songs. In some statements by the band it was said that this album would be more "rap-centric" than previous releases, but I didn't find this to be necessarily true. It seems to be in line with previous releases in regards to the amount of rapped lyrics versus sang lyrics except for the short period of time where they used much less rap. It still comes across as nu-metal with some slight evolutions, despite claims that Linkin Park has transcended nu-metal. This isn't necessarily a bad thing nu-metal wasn't bad in and of itself, only in that it became derivative of other music in the genre, which Linkin Park has managed to avoid for the most part. Touring in 2012 with Incubus and MuteMath, Linkin Park is working hard to promote the album. On May 9th they initiated an international scavenger hunt, the end result being the release of a song from the album, "Lies Greed Misery", which premiered on BBC Radio. They've had an iPad application called "Linkin Park GP" released that is a car racing game centered around the song "Burn It Down". "Burn It Down" also was produced as the first music video of the album, which debuted on MTV on May 24th. Fans who pre-order the album will also be subscribed to "Living Things Remixed" which will be several songs from the album released in remixed formats. Also, the song "Powerless" which closes out the album will also be used in the closing credits of the movie "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". The songs "Lies Greed Misery" and "Castle Of Glass" will be included in the video game "Medal Of Honor: Warfighter". This album seems to have a lot more in the way of promotion going on than some past Linkin Park albums.
Lyrics — 8
Bennington and Shinoda have proven to be an interesting vocal team to date, and this continues with "Living Things". Bennington's voice continues to be dynamic, with soaring clean delivery for the most part. Shinoda maybe has a little bit more weight to pull on "Living Things" than he has had recently, but overall there is a good mix of clean vocals and rapped vocals. A good sample of lyrics comes from "Lies Greed Misery", which opens with some rapped lyrics: "I'm gonna be that nail in your coffin/ saying that I'm soft when/ I was ducking down to reload/ you can save your petty explanations/ I don't have the patience/ before you even say it I know/ you hurt your pride and your ego". Then some of the lyrics from "In My Remains", as follows: "Separate, sifting through the baggage/ I can't concentrate/ searching for the message/ and the fear and pain/ broken down and waiting/ for the chance to feel alive". You may notice that the lyrics seem more personal than they have in recent Linkin Park releases. The biggest exception would have to be "Victimized" which seems to be about war. A sample of the lyrics from this track: "No rebirth for the confidence betrayed/ no more hiding in shadow/ cause I won't wait for the debt to be repaid/ time has come for you", then goes into a short screamed interlude, then Shinoda comes in with some rap. This is also one of the shortest songs on the album, being only one minute and forty-six seconds.
Overall Impression — 8
"Living Things" is not a bad album while it isn't earth shattering, it is a very solid release and manages to keep my interest. One thing about Linkin Park is that you can recognize who you are listening to pretty quickly on their songs whether you've heard them before or not as they definitely have an identifiable sound. This can work for them or against them, and it can sometimes be a thin line. Right now this is something working for Linkin Park as they are able to change things up a little bit, but still sound familiar enough not to alienate their fans. My favorite tracks on the album would have to be "Victimized", "Burn It Down" and "Lies Greed Misery". As far as the rap rock facet of Linkin Park, it is at its most heavily displayed on the track "Until It Breaks". While on first listen the album didn't really grab me, I did begin to appreciate it more in subsequent listens. I don't really dislike any songs on the album, but there are definitely some mediocre songs on the album. The mediocre songs do manage to at least be interesting enough to get you through to the next stand out track of the album.