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Living Things: The Ducko Review


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Initially, I wasn't nearly as excited for the release of Living Things as I had been for previous Linkin Park albums. Perhaps it's because the gestation period was so much shorter than previously; perhaps it was because I didn't think the band really had anywhere left to explore after ATS (I was wrong).

Burn it Down was a strong single, but by no means one of the best the band had released. Then Lies Greed Misery came out and completely threw me- it was the first Linkin Park track I'd ever listened to that I genuinely dislike. Suddenly, I was rather worried- what if my favourite band were about to release an album I hated?

 

Thankfully, my fears were unfounded.

 

1) Lost in the Echo

Definitely the perfect song to kick off the record, ramping the energy levels right up into the red. The synthesizers used here are undoubtedly strong, but this is probably the first synthy LP track I feel could do with with some more heavy guitars.

Mike's verses are killer, the lyrics seem to me to be about how the band have finally got to grips with their sound.

"You were that foundation, never gonna be another one, no.

I followed, so taken, so conditioned I could never let go"

Seems clearly to me to about Hybrid Theory (ironically there was another one, Meteora.)

Chester's chorus is perfectly pitched, powerful but not dominating the track completely. Overall a great starting point. [8/10]

 

2) In My Remains

The kind of anthem Linkin Park seem to be able to pull out of their posteriors perfectly formed. Chester's vocals are what make this track fantastic, and you can definitely feel his impact on the proceedings after his relatively subdued presence on ATS. The song goes from good to great when the bridge arrives, with military snare accompanying Mike's tortured, simplistic singing. Chester's harmony is perfection, and then when the chorus kicks back in it sounds 10 times more effective. Could definitely see this as a live anthem in future. [9/10]

 

3) Burn it Down

Won't dwell on it much, but it definitely made sense as the first single and also works well in the context of the album. Nothing extraordinary, this is textbook Linkin Park. [7/10]

 

4) Lies Greed Misery

I hated this song on first listen, but I've since come to respect it a lot more. The dubsteppy sound on the verses is cliched as hell, but the glitched vocals are cool and the chorus is marvellously unhinged. Personally I feel Chester's screams towards the end sound quite weak (something I've never thought about his recorded screams before), but I believe he was ill while recording so that excuses him partially. Keeps up the album's momentum well- this is definitely the band's highest energy collection since Hybrid Theory- and overall a fun listen, but one of the album's weakest. [6/10]

 

5) I'll Be Gone

Very similar, and slightly inferior to, In My Remains for me, but this is nonetheless another very good, very Linkin Park-esque song (an odd description yes, but many of the later songs aren't LP-esque at all). Chester once again proving he's one of the finest voices in modern rock. Is it just me, or are the lyrics about suicide?

And tell them I couldn't help myself

And tell them I was alone

Oh, tell me I am the only one

and there's nothing left to stop me.

When the lights go out and we open

our eyes,

out there in the silence, I'll be gone,

Maybe I'm over dramatising things, but those are some pretty dark lyrics. Anyway, another great song, finest moment is Chester's final, piercing "I'll be gone!" [8/10]

 

6) Castle of Glass

Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. The title alone had me intrigued, but this song fantastic. On every Linkin Park record there's one song (APFMH, Numb, TLTGYA, Iridescent) that has stood out to me as a masterpiece, and Castle of Glass is just that. The way they've taken what is essentially a folk song and made it quintessentially Linkin Park is astounding. The delivery and the lyrics are perfect, the melodies are gorgeous, the transition between Mike and Chester is perfect- the whole thing is just spellbinding, celestial in it's simple beauty. It's not overcomplicating anything, it doesn't overstay it's welcome - it's just a perfect song.

So yeah... it's pretty good. [10/10]

 

7) Victimized

Just when Castle of Glass has taken you into deep space, this punches you in the face back down to Earth. I'd never have thought I'd one day compare a Linkin Park song to Dillinger Escape Plan, but that's what Victimized is. It's bonkers, it's barmy, it's slightly incoherent, but the drumwork is some of Rob's finest and it works because it's such a short song. I'm not a much of a fan of the chorus, and it does occasionally feel like a demo rather than a finished song, but as a segue between two ballads this works surprisingly well. [7/10]

 

8) Roads Untravelled

A rather pretty ballad indeed. The wordless chorus is a stroke of genius- just a soaring singalong melody to some damn fine musical backing. The use of vocals from both Mike and Chester is once more inspired, with some more great harmonies on the final verse. I don't think this one would translate particularly well live, but it's a great album track. [8/10]

 

9) Skin to Bone

This song is dirty. Perhaps the grooviest thing LP have yet put their name to, when that big synth kicks in I can't help but start moving. The beat and industrial backing samples evoke images of crowds dancing in the desert as the world comes to an end. The amalgam of vaudeville stylings with dance rhythms and synths is absolutely inspired. The lyrics and melodies are simplistic, but work brilliantly in the context of the song. One of the more left-field songs on Living Things, this is nonetheless one of my absolute Linkin Park favourites. [9/10]

 

10) Until it Breaks

Did somebody say left-field? A bizarrely loosely-structured song, this is where Mike steps up to the plate and kicks the pretenders to the throne to the curb with easily the best verses he's delivered since the Fort Minor days. Excellent though they are, Chester's part in the middle sounds completely and utterly out of place and kills the momentum somewhat. Brad's singing at the end works well as a conclusion, but overall this song is too messy to be ranked in the top echelon of the album (for me, anyway). [6/10]

 

11) Tinfoil

A nice little interlude, lacking the majesty of Session but nonetheless working well as a segue. I get a very Muse-esque vibe from this, with both the melody and the piano arpeggios. Won't bother rating it as it's so short, but I very much like it.

 

12) Powerless

The traditional elegant album closing ballad, Powerless is quite interesting in that the piano and vocals are almost offset to the beat initially. Building to a stirring conclusion, Chester again steals the show with his octave jump on the final cries of "Powerless!". A fittingly magnificent end to a magnificent album. [8/10]

 

So Living Things definitely did not leave me disappointed. However, I will say that though it is a fantastic, satisfying album, I don't think it quite matches Hybrid Theory in perfect pop songcraft and consistency, or A Thousand Suns in scope and ambition. In my LP album rankings, I'd say-

 

Hybrid Theory

A Thousand Suns

Living Things

Meteora

Minutes to Midnight

 

I would say though that Living Things is the definitive Linkin Park album. There's the same sense of sugar-rush heavy pop magic as there was on Hybrid Theory and Meteora, the same anthemic flavour as Minutes to Midnight and the electro-stylings of A Thousand Suns. Overall, I think Living Things is an excellent addition to the Linkin Park catalogue and look forward to many repeated listens.

 

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

 

(Please excuse the excessive italicisation)

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