Thoughts on 'LIVING THINGS'

My love of Linkin Park runs deep. Not only does their music combine two of my favorite genres of music -- rap and rock -- but their sound and the lyrics of their songs have always appealed to me. They are, without a doubt, my all-time favorite band. Their fifth studio album, LIVING THINGS, cements their place in my heart as the greatest band my ears have ever heard. It is my most favorite LP album, and arguably their best to date.

What makes LIVING THINGS so great is that it encapsulates all the sounds the band’s ever experimented with. If Hybrid Theory and Meteora represented the height of the nu-metal, rap-rock craze and Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns represented breaking away and maturing artistically, then LIVING THINGS stands as an amalgamation of all the sonic beams the band’s ever played with. And I absolutely love it.

Here’s how LP frontman Mike Shinoda describes the album:

Over the course of the last year, the subject kept popping up, and we talked about how to tastefully bridge the gap between all the musical places we’ve been, to marry together all the ideas we’ve accumulated about how to make a song. And as LIVING THINGS began taking shape, the most powerful shift I saw take place was the acceptance and eagerness to use all the tools in the toolbox, not just some. Everything at once, together.

Everything at once, together. As I said, an amalgamation. The quintessential mash-up.

I, of course, downloaded the album from iTunes when it came out on June 26. I haven’t listened to anything else since. It’s been LIVING THINGS every single time I’ve been in the mood for some music. That I haven’t listened to anything else speaks volumes (no pun intended) about how much I adore what Linkin Park’s done this time around. I really liked that the band were brave and self-aware enough to break for the (albeit successful) formula from their first two albums, and expand musically. They recruited Rick Rubin and embarked on a journey of discovery that, I think, made them better. Most importantly, I think it made them lasting. The worst thing the band could’ve done is clung to the past and fallen complacent, whereby the same type of music is made ad nauseam. It also would’ve been the quickest route to irrelevancy.

Shinoda again:

For me, it’s all about getting back to the real “hybrid theory" -- not the album with that name, but the idea that the six guys in our band have drastically different tastes in music, and the blending of all those sounds into one is exactly what we built our band upon.

Shinoda’s larger point here is this: at its core, the band hasn’t changed so much as it's evolved. Come to think of it, “Hybrid Theory” arguably would’ve been a more apt title for this latest album insofar that the sounds are so clearly representative of Linkin Park as artists. LIVING THINGS exemplifies their maturation. 

In the end1, it’s hard for me to pinpoint which tracks are the best or my favorite2 because I’m so enamored with the body of work. Every one of the twelve songs on the album are great. LIVING THINGS presents one of those rare opportunities whereby a listener can play the album continuously from start to finish. Conceptually, that’s exactly what an album’s supposed to invoke. Skipping tracks or buying them piecemeal is giving the album (and Linkin Park) a great disservice. It deserves to be experienced from beginning to end.

I can’t recommend LIVING THINGS highly enough. 10/10. Get it.

  1. See what I did there?  ↩

  2. Though if you long for the LP sound of old, I suggest “Victimized”.  ↩