One More Light review by Linkin Park

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  • Released: May 19, 2017
  • Sound: 5
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 5.3 Decent
  • Users' score: 3.1 (198 votes)
Linkin Park: One More Light
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Sound — 5
The popularity of Linkin Park has always been a strange thing to me. From their first two albums being simultaneously thought of as some of the best and worst albums of all time, depending on who you talk to and what mood they're in, to the fact that they've spent the vast majority of their career (nearly 15 years out of their 20 of existence) releasing albums that have little, if anything, to do with their first two.

The band has experimented a lot since their first two records, from the stripped-down alt-rock of "Minutes to Midnight", the electronic conceptual-pop/rock of "A Thousand Suns", the heavily electronic "Living Things" to the almost punk-rock "The Hunting Party", it makes sense that Linkin Park would attempt another great leap on their next album. But after releasing "Heavy" and "Battle Symphony" as singles, it became clear that the direction was something beyond any of that. Those singles heralded the arrival of a Linkin Park album that would go full-on into pop music territory, disappointing many long-time fans and having many expressing hope that this was either some kind of joke or that the rest of the album would show a different direction.

And one could almost sense that this is the case from the opening track on the record, "Nobody Can Save Me", which may constitute some of the most guitar-heavy production on the album, while still sticking to the pop-influenced script. Perhaps this track was placed at the front of the album to ease us into their new style, but the Chipmunk-style vocal effects in the intro are just annoying, and we're going to see these pop up more on the album. The song itself is absolutely unremarkable, with a dime-a-dozen pop chorus that does nothing to differentiate itself from the myriad pop records you'll find on the radio these days. Rappers Pusher T and Stormzy show up on "Good Goodbye", the album's token hip-hop track, and Mike's rapping is actually a highlight on the album, representing probably the closest thing you'll hear to any kind of real "aggression" on the album, but more of those incredibly annoying Chipmunk vocals, as well as a yawn-inducing chorus. Brad Delson's guitars are almost non-existent on the track, only as distorted power chords later on in the album. Dave Farrell's bass playing and Rob Bourdon's drums are either completely non-present, or manipulated to the point of sounding nothing like a human performance.

"Talking To Myself" marks another appearance of more "traditional" rock textures, and might be the only time you'll actually hear what sounds like a live drum performance on the album, along with some proper guitar riffing mixed in with all the layers of synth, but it's a bit of a shame that the song itself is nothing remarkable. Chester Bennington does sound nice during the chorus, but the melody is annoying. "Battle Symphony" is about as generic of a modern pop track as anything you'll hear these days, and while it's catchy, it's ultimately identity-less and forgettable. "Invisible" features Mike Shinoda singing rather than rapping, and just seems to be pretty much a continuation of the themes of the previous song.

First single "Heavy" features pop singer Kiiara and definitely contains the most direct pop appeal of any of the tracks on the album. At just under three minutes, with its sterile chorus melody and squeaky-clean synth washes, it feels tailor-made for pop radio. Guitar doesn't make any appearance in the song until basically the last eight bars, which will no doubt annoy many fans. "Sorry for Now" might actually be one of the more acceptable pop tracks on the album, with Mike Shinoda taking lead vocal duties again. Sadly, Alvin and his Chipmunk friends show up again during what would have been an actually pretty neat U2-esque guitar riff. Structurally, though, this song is a bit more experimental, with sections popping in and out not necessarily where one would expect, such as the aforementioned guitar "riff" and Chester's bridge. The song ends with a recapitulation of that "riff" section with a bit that almost sounds (*gasp*) like a guitar solo. "Halfway Right" is yet another very unremarkable pop song with nothing in the way of originality, and an annoying "na na na" chorus.

"One More Light" features a bit more prominent clean guitar playing, and a pulsating synth part underpinning Chester's vocals, and there's very little else going on in the song other than a simple guitar solo which is not even remotely shreddy, but just a more prominently brought-out version of the clean guitars in the chorus. "Sharp Edges" closes out the album with acoustic guitars and "stomp-clap" percussion, but not much substance.

Sadly, the songwriting and production on this album had a lot of potential to be much better, with Linkin Park definitely having the skills to take current pop music and put their own indelible spin on it, but instead opting to simply go all-in on making as generic of a pop record as they possibly could. Every melody feels like it could have been written by the writers for any contemporary pop artist, and it shows when reading the credits that the band did, in fact, utilize many outside pop writers for the album. Only "Sorry for Now" does not contain any musical contributions from outside the band (though the lyrics were written by six people, only Shinoda and Delson of which are band members). The production, carried out by Shinoda and Delson along with a slew of co-producers from the pop industry, also comes off as terribly sterile and watered-down, with stark electronic beats and washy synths not really giving any sense of movement or dynamics in any of the songs. Only "Talking To Myself" really seems to have any sense of musical movement to it, with the more "organic" rock elements complementing the electronic pop elements well.

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Lyrics — 6
Linkin Park has always been one of those bands to be accused of the kind of "whiny" and emotional lyrics that plagued the nu-metal scene in the early-00s, and even though the band has grown quite a bit since their "Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora" days, the band has never really seemed to shake that stigma. Even incorporating a conceptual lyrical theme based around how people would deal with the end of the world on "A Thousand Suns" seemed to do little to dispel that opinion of the band.

Sadly, "One More Light" is not going to help matters, with its lyrics still firmly planted in self-doubt and other emotional struggles, but now with whatever could have been more intensely personal about the lyrics distilled by the inclusion of several outside songwriters (seven of them throughout the whole album, but only RAC and Andrew Bolooki appear on almost every song). Having so many outside songwriters really does seem to take something away from what could have been special messages directed at the outcasts among the band's fanbase, such as "Battle Symphony" which seems to be a rallying cry for those who feel that they don't belong. I've never professed that Linkin Park's lyrics have ever been full of depth or philosophy, but this album has a lot of repetition, not much in the way of substance, and often, as in the case of tracks like "Heavy", seem to be distilled versions of the "whininess" Linkin Park is often accused of.

Vocally, Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington are still fairly on point. I'll never complain that Chester is a terrible singer, he's clearly well-endowed in that department, and it's often his vocals that are the reason I've stuck with Linkin Park even through some of the band's less successful experiments like "Living Things". But I definitely miss the more aggressive tendencies of his vocals, and there's absolutely none of that on this record. "Talking to Myself" gets us about as close as we'll ever get on this record to Chester singing hard, and he mostly just sticks to squeaky-clean singing for the rest of the record. I do like that aspect of his voice, but it's particularly sad that a vocalist I considered to be one of rock's best due to its variety, just seems to be underutilized on a record for a very vocal-led genre. Mike Shinoda's singing is even cleaner (and probably more strongly auto-tuned), but I do enjoy his rapping on "Good Goodbye".

Overall Impression — 5
So, for a band that seems to have weathered all kinds of strong opinions, has changed their sound and style more times than I can even count, and never really seems to stay on one page for too long, it's safe to say that not everything this band has done over the years has really been all that great. That said, some of those experiments have resounded with me in strong ways. While a lot of fans did not enjoy "A Thousand Suns", I found its conceptual lyrics and rather unique blend of electronic textures with rock instrumentation enthralling. Their next most recent album "The Hunting Party" was as exciting of a rock record as one could expect from Linkin Park and was almost a return to form.

But perhaps all of this stark contrast has not led to "One More Light" being a very good experiment. Instead, Linkin Park have offered us their most watered-down, banal, and generic release to date. While the band has been known for being innovative at times (particularly their first two records), the band has not put their own spin on current pop on this record, deciding instead to simply embrace it and run with it to its logical conclusion: a squeaky-clean pop record that will be safe going toe-to-toe with the Biebers and Beyonces of the world. And perhaps that's fair, given that a lot of pop radio listeners are younger than the band's classic nu-metal records, and probably have no sense of the band's history. This record is not for those of us who have stuck with the band for nearly 20 years, but for those of us who have never heard of Linkin Park and have no sense of how important this band used to be. Those are the music fans that are likely to get the most out of this record, and I have to be fair to them. As a pop record goes, this isn't the worst thing I've ever listened to. Had any other modern pop artist come out with this exact record, it might have even come off in a more positive light.

But when even albums like "Living Things" and "Minutes To Midnight" seem far more innovative and against-the-grain, it really gives one pause as to how the Linkin Park boys thought this album was a good idea in the first place. There was a lot of potential here to make something special that still would have been appropriate for current pop fans, and I feel that the band had already achieved that on "A Thousand Suns".

This experiment in making current pop music, overall, just seems sad. A lot of the jokes about the band claiming to have grown up so much yet still putting out music targeted at a newly teenaged demographic have really rung true.

Are there any good tracks on the album? Well, there are a couple where you can almost here a slight shade of Linkin Park's identity come through, particularly "Talking to Myself", "Nobody Can Save Me", and "Sorry For Now", but even these tracks can't hold a candle to anything else in the band's discography.

Overall, consider this album a massive disappointment.

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45 comments sorted by best / new / date

    blackone666
    I'm a huge Del Rey / Florence / Adele / Winehouse fan, so pop is no problem for me. The problem lies in it being a 37 min rushed electro pop record. 
    MetalliBucket
    Laughed pretty hard that they're charging 11$ for it (on Itunes at least) when It's only 37 mins as you said and just 10 songs. Pretty sad. I know it's not a huge deal but I've seen lots of new albums with more songs/longer run times at lower prices. 
    travislausch
    And people will pay that because it's Linkin Park, and they're no strangers to selling millions of records. No matter how bad this record might be, I expect it will be one of this year's biggest sellers.
    brentskew
    Imagine say Taylor Swift kept the same image but started writing and recording grind core songs... People have a right to be pissed about the direction this band went, I personally never liked any of it but this is gross.
    jsp16
    Taylor swift and grind core is something I didn't know I wanted
    The_Dude_502
    It is not really about what they write (although both Taylor Swift and LP written songs for themselves, but on the latest albums used songwriters, what a coincidence), but it's mostly about their comments on it. They totally mislead their fanbase. They say that what their doing comes from depth of the soul, but i feel no heart in autotune. I felt the heart on Living Things, I personally think that Mike's singing kicks ass! Okay, the hunting party felt forced cause they needed to give their fanbase what they wanted. Now they say, we're doing what we want to creatively. But it feels like only things that they truly want are charts and acceptance of the mainstream pop artists. That's what is gross. 
    imbatman1312
    If more songs on here were like the title track, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.
    travislausch
    I was actually saying to someone else after I put this review up that if the title track had been on any of their other albums, it would have passed and I'd have dug it as a sort of ambient interlude kind of deal. But yeah, I think I could dig an entire "ambient" Linkin Park record.
    The_Dude_502
    Like, Living Things was really decent electronic album, A Thousand Suns, though experimental was quite good too, why can't they just stick to that?  So "ambient" Linkin Park won't be no good. But when u call supah dupah power pop experimental new wave of Linkin Park risky? No way it will be good.  U don't want to be nu-metal or sorta punk-rock as on Hunting Party, then go full electronics, why going pop? U'll still have your charts, but won't have such hate. 
    Sebo
    Holy shit. I really wanted to like this album. I thought "hey the trash it get's is so over the top, everybody is on the hate train, and nobody really giving it a fair listen". Oh boy.. I'm 8 tracks in, and I just can't believe this gets better. Chester sounds flat as fuck. The lyrics are like angsty teenage romance stuff, but this sounds so polished. Not saying he has to scream with a harsh voice, but even if there was emotion in his voice, well it got lost somewhere in the 40th plugin. There is nothing, nothing standing out here. The few interesting parts (like the intro of sorry for now) directly segway into something bland, and cliche. With every single song I have the feeling I heard this before.  I'm sure I'll hear it sometime in the summer, from some radio, but man, I don't think I am going to actively going to revisit that thing. Everything here works as background music, but as soon as I tune my attention to it, there is something akward hanging in there.
    GR84
    I enjoyed your review it was thought out and informative, great job - nice read. Personally I forgive the album a little more than i thought i would originally, as opposed to other Linkin Park albums (which i listen to a tad louder and enjoy paying attention too, I actually found this to be the Linkin Park album that works best as more chilled out background music. Granted that does mean that it is more simplistic and less intelligent musically, however i cant say i felt required to turn it off at any point, and find myself enjoying it more the more i listen to it and just leave expectation at the door.   Certainly never going to be considered their best album, but i guess these guys just had a particular project in mind and they went for it. Its not up to me to tell them they are wrong with their music. That is a pointless argument.  However, this review i respect and it is good because it gives examples as to why the reviewer themselves did not like, rather than stick to the tired old "ITS NOT HYBRID THEORY!" stuff. To each their own .
    travislausch
    Yeah, definitely not going to hate this record because it's not their first two. Like I said in my review, they've been making albums that are nothing like those first two records for the majority of their career, and most of us as fans have kind of just accepted that as fact.
    TheBlisterer
    I remember when people kicked off about M2M, which was actually a pretty good album if people were to but listen to it. ATS was experimental stuff that I digged, they sounded like LP whilst still sounding different. Living Things I liked the most since Meteora, had some cracking tracks on it. I have defended LP hate...until this. I'm surprised Brad, Rob and Phoenix haven't abandoned Mike and Chester to pursue their own careers or enjoy a well earned retirement. I mean, 6 guys can't seriously think this was a good record...right? Are Linkin Park trolling us with this album? You sly boots you... Or maybe they aren't O.o
    travislausch
    Well, Brad Delson seems rather happy with his work on this album if interviews are anything to go by. Haven't heard from Rob and Phoenix yet, but I don't assume they do a lot of publicity for LP anyway. And hey, no mention of The Hunting Party? That album was actually pretty fucking awesome.
    TheBlisterer
    I listened to it once and wasn't much impressed, I liked Wastelands and that was the only track that stood out for me. My opinion on the hunting party is to be taken with a grain of salt though, I usually make a rule of listening to an album at least twice before I give a solid opinion on it.
    travislausch
    Fair enough. Even though it was a return to a more "rock" style and I dug that a lot, I can see where the people who disliked it were coming from.
    TheBlisterer
    One thing's for sure, I'll rate The Hunting Party 10/10 before I buy LP's new album :')
    ecthelion79
    Great review, kudos! You touched on pretty much everything that we should know about. You didn't fall in the trap of simply comparing this album to their previous work. Not being a huge fan of LP, this is the first review that helped me understand what's going on with this album. I especially liked the "chipmunk" analogy. I just gave a listen to the song and it really does sound like something I'd expect to be listening to while waiting to get served at a McDonalds counter.
    travislausch
    Thanks! I definitely tried not to compare this to their older records too hard because a lot of their records are so vastly different that any exercise in doing so is pointless. I thought I'd go into it with no preconceptions and try my best to review it fairly. Tall order, though, for an album like this.
    travislausch
    I was expecting a shitstorm of negativity and stupidity in the comment section for this, but I'm actually surprised to see so many well thought out comments on this so far!
    AceHD
    The problem isn't the fact that they changed genre losing their identity, the real problem is that this album miss everything a good album should have. 1) no drums. (Except for a couple of songs but just for a few seconds) 2) no guitars (except for 3 seconds in one track, with a solo without emotion) 3) no mike shinoda with his impressive rap skills. Just Pop-shinoda 4)no chester , just a common guy who try to sing commercial songs. 5) joe han? And phoenix? You can't feel them I accept their decision, they wanted to change ok. This album is their worst one, not because of the genre, but because it i an anonymouse record of commercial songs with no soul, just backing track made from ableton.
    travislausch
    Weirdly enough, since I wrote this review, the album has really started to grow on me. I mean, not to the point where it's my favourite thing from them or something like that, but I don't see it as harshly as I did before. Checked out some live videos of them playing some tracks from the album, and it's a little more guitar-heavy on stage. "Battle Symphony" actually gets Chester on guitar, at least in the one performance I've seen.
    JimBonJovi
    I almost enjoyed a few songs but then the chipmunk voices ruined it all. How is this taken seriously these days? I remember when I used to re-wind a cassette and it would play chipmunk voices...and it  was funny but to intentionally include it? I don't get it.
    DissonantTimbre
    I like a lot of pop music namely Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and Florence & The Machine. This is atrocious. I remember when I thought Living Things was horrible but this makes that seem like a 10.
    TheBlisterer
    Living Things was the closest they ever got to their old sound, had some great tracks on it. This album however has completely lost LP their identity...not sure how they expected the fan base would react other than out rage.
    travislausch
    I thought The Hunting Party was a bit closer, but I took a listen to Living Things today, mostly to see if it was still as awful as I remembered it in light of their new record, and I found that I actually dug most of Living Things. 
    GR84
    I still haven't understood the hype with The Hunting Party, there really don't seem to be any good songs on it, the sound is more raw and heavy which i appreciate, but the songs don't seem to be there, what am i missing? I consider it to be the weak link in the discography, Living Things and Minutes to Midnight are miles above it in terms of memorable songs and content. But, that's my opinion, and i am genuinely asking if there's something to Hunting Party that i don't get.....
    Humbug808
    While I'm definitely a fan of their older work and honestly after I heard 'Heavy' I had the chorus melody stuck in my head, it does appear to be Linkin Park trying to forget all about rock/metal and be 100% pop artists. I have nothing against pop, I'm a fan of Gaga, Drake, Major Lazer and the Pop greats, but I guess we cant forget that Linkin Park was a band put together by a record label (Google it!).  I think Chester and Mike should have went 'solo' as a duo or something and made this album, it probably would have been better appreciated. Rivers from Weezer sang on some pop singles with B.o.B or somebody else, but he didn't market it under the Weezer brand.  I'm not saying bands aren't allowed to change up their sound (as they did multiple times through out their career anyway, like you mentioned in the review), but to totally jump ship and re-brand and re-market your band is a risky step. I give them credit for trying something most bands won't dare do though. 
    kmn842
    You're spreading bullshit internet rumors. If there were put together by a record label then why did Shinoda,  Rob Bourdon, and Brad Delson go to high school together and create the band Xero? Why did they recruit Joe Hahn and Chester Bennington while still struggling to get a record deal? If you were to actually google it you would see your claim is all bullshit.
    Humbug808
    From Chester's Biography at Wiki: "Bennington was frustrated and almost ready to quit his musical career altogether when Jeff Blue, the vice president of A&R at Zomba Music in Los Angeles, offered him an audition with the future members of Linkin Park."  They weren't signed yet, but they sure had help from Jeff Blue, an A&R from a label and actually who's now the head of A&R at Warner Bros. All I'm saying is most bands starting out don't have A&Rs from labels putting the pieces in place for a band. 
    kmn842
    That's far from the claim that a record label created the band. The band wasn't just starting out, they were struggling. The previous vocalist left the band and they went out looking for a singer. They were having a hard time and reached out to Jeff Blue for recommendations. Getting help finding a singer and having a label put together the whole band are entirely different things.  From the Linkin Park wiki:
    After spending a considerable time searching for Wakefield's replacement, Xero recruited Arizona vocalist Chester Bennington, who was recommended by Jeff Blue, the vice president of Zomba Music in March 1999. Bennington, formerly of a post-grunge band by the name of Grey Daze, became a standout among applicants because of the dynamic in his singing style.
    So they held an audition and they picked him. 
    Humbug808
    I understand your view of it, but as far as I see it, they had help from a vice president at a label who had connections and influence in the business prior to the band forming and becoming a successful entity. It wasn't a small time 'manager' who helped them, the dude was a high level A&R at a label in LA. Yes, they didn't get signed by Jeff Blue's particular label, but they were putting the band together with his help ('recommendations') and got signed to another label, probably through his influence as well.  You can change the semantics of it, but ultimately the band came together and got signed thanks to that dude in LA.  I'm not disrespecting Linkin Park or their music (Like I said, I'm a fan), but the influence they had coming from a vice president at an LA label was highly contributory to them making their success. 
    Seth_07
    Sharp Edges '' what dosen't kill you make you stronger'' tottaly copy and paste from that song of some crappy pop artist who i don't remember the name ;/
    adam cogan
    Sharp edges and Mike's rap on Good Goodbye were the only good things on the album
    jhoneych
    A bit hit and miss on this record although still quite solid. Chester overshadows Mikes singing by far. Mike should stick to raping hmm actually thinking about it now without Chester around maybe he could be better appreciated. Tracks 2 and 3 are over the top mainstream sounding to me but there are at least 4 or 5 tracks that are pure amazing! Nobody Can Save Me - Battle Symphony - Heavy - Halfway Right for the chorus - and the last song  'mamma always told me dont you run with scissors son youre going to hurt someone' my son loves that one