Sound — 8
It will be no surprise to most listeners that Linkin Park's new album remains in the realm of heavier electronic sound. This will no doubt deter some listeners, especially those hoping the band was going back to their "old sound". The fact of the matter is that the album sounds kind of like the sound of ALL of their previous albums combined: drawing from the electronica-driven mixing of their most recent album, "A Thousand Suns", while taking on the lyrical content of "Minutes To Midnight" and "Meteora"/"Hybrid Theory", depending on the track. There are more raps on Living Things than their previous two albums, and the song structure is more conventional than "A Thousand Suns", which may make the album more accessible, but also arguably stifles the creativity which the band explored on "ATS". Surprisingly, there are quite a few live drum tracks on this album, although a lot of them sound to be supplemented during production. However, the synthesized drum beats do work for some songs, mostly the more "rap-centric" tracks. Still, "Burn It Down" could have really used some live drumming, and a lot of people will probably be trying to figure out why Linkin Park chose such a blaise song as a single for quite song time. There isn't a whole lot of noticeable guitar-work on the album either, since a lot of the guitar tracks seem to have undergone heavy mixing in the studio. The guitar stays in the background with the vocals and synth at the forefront for the majority of the album. This really shouldn't be a surprise, though, because throughout LP's career, Brad Delson has stuck mostly to power- and octave-chords. Hahn has his moments, too, as there is some sweet turntable work, most notably on "Lost In The Echo" and "Until It Breaks". In short, if you are a Linkin Park fan, past and/or present, you will probably feel like you have heard some of the songs before; this is simply because the band drew most of the sound for Living Things from the sound of all of their previous albums. This will be good for some, mundane for others. Still, a lot of the tracks sound fresh and new, and the album may be a good jumping-off point for people who have not really listened to the band before.
Lyrics — 7
"Living Things" is lyrically powerful at times. Shinoda has always been a pretty damn good rapper for a white boy, and I mean that as a serious compliment. The lyrical content is most reminiscent of "Minutes To Midnight", with some deviation. "Until It Breaks" and "Victimized" have lyrics similar to those present on most of "A Thousand Suns". "Roads Untraveled" is also one of the best songs lyrically. Here's a small sample: "Weep not for roads untraveled / Weep not for paths left alone / 'Cause beyond every bend is a long blinding end / It's the worst kind of pain I've known." The album is often poetic, but only sometimes overcomes lyrical cliches. Chester and Mike are both talented singers, as they both shine at different points in the album. A third voice (speculated to be Brad Delson) appears at the end of "Until It Breaks", which serves as the emotional climax of the album, and the addition of a previously unheard, ethereal voice works perfectly for the tone.
Overall Impression — 7
As a whole, I'd say this album is pretty good. A lot better than what most artists put out these days, to say the least. A few tracks end up seeming like filler in the wake of the rest of the album, such as "In My Remains", "Burn It Down", and "I'll Be Gone". There are 12 tracks, and in my opinion, 9 are good, and 5 are very good. To me, it's definitely not their best, but "A Thousand Suns" is my favorite LP album, and I know a lot of people that will end up reading this would disagree with that. This one has its ups and downs, with "Burn It Down" probably being the lowest down, and "Until It Breaks" being the highest up. If you like all of Linkin Park's music, you will probably really like "Lies Greed Misery" which is also a stellar track. If you only like their older stuff, you may want to save your money and just purchase "Victimized", although I would encourage you to branch out a little and check out the other songs, too. Just know, if you're looking for "Meteora" or "Hybrid Theory", you've come to the wrong place. If you're looking for a band that's progressive rather than stagnant, welcome. Not every band can consistently put out the same album over and over again, and if change makes you uncomfortable, go listen to Disturbed or Godsmack. Peace.