ONE MORE LIGHT by Linkin Park
Genre: Electropop, Synthpop
Favorite Tracks: “Talking to Myself,” “Invisible”
“That’s our kind of spiritual imperative as artists, to always push the envelope and try to grow, and there’s no looking back.” Brad Delson, Linkin Park guitarist, Variety
I am an open Linkin Park apologist who can’t stand the band’s cowardly and bullshit justification for this album. Yeah, you read that first part right. Despite most people’s familiarity with and caring about the band ending around 2003, they have done more experimentation and branching out than most other nu-metal bands, and I sympathize with their repeated disdain at fans who only want them to make copy after copy of HYBRID THEORY.
It’s all the more depressing since their last album was one of the boldest, freshest things Linkin Park had made in a while. A few years ago, Mike Shinoda apparently made some alt-pop demos in the style of CHVRCHES, but was unhappy with how much they sounded like everyone else as the time and released HUNTING PARTY instead, their most authentically rock album to date. Apparently Linkin Park has no qualms with losing their individuality now, because ONE MORE LIGHT is a homogenous, bland misfire made 1000 times worse by the band’s stubborn defending of it as something other than a blatant sellout.
For all their flaws, Linkin Park used to at least sound like a band that took advantage of its six members to make instrumentally dense, yet tight and controlled, nu metal. ONE MORE LIGHT isn’t as much controlled as it is obviously staged and combed over by the most milquetoast of writers and producers who probably worked on “Roar” and the latest G-Eazy album. The synths oscillate apathetically with no sharpness or groove, and there’s a distinct lack of texture or color to any of the instrumentation or vocals. Chester suffers especially in this regard; he’s always been a better screamer, and his clean vocals don’t have the conviction to sell these hooks or make up for the lack of compelling instrumentals. By the end of the record, especially on “Halfway Right,” the creative well that started off with only a few drops has completely evaporated, and a fairly short album (35 minutes) somehow becomes redundant by about track six.
It’s not like Linkin Park haven’t dabbled in electronica before, but they had some semblance of sweeping atmosphere or starry-eyed wonder a la Coldplay give it some personality. “Battle Symphony” is a song I would almost enjoy for its anthemic cheesiness, but the boring, clumsy drop and lack of driving percussion disembowel it of the epicness it so desperately needs. Similarly, the much maligned lead single “Heavy” could have been salvaged with a prettier instrumental. Instead, the song we got suffers from a minimal beat that draws attention to and grounds the thin lyrics at a time when it should transform them into something grander and beyond our reality.
Whenever the guitars kick in and the lyrics feel like they came from the heart rather than the pen of some studio hack, ONE MORE LIGHT picks up a little bit. The Walk the Moon-esque “Talking to Myself” features a satisfying build to a sharp, urgent hook, while “Invisible” is a surprisingly mature track apologizing for screwing up a relationship. It also has one of the denser instrumentals and conveys a feeling of renewal, like a sun rising on a new day, while many of the tracks came out of some sterile test tube and are too cold and calculated. From a band that relied on loud, angsty emotions and chaotic fusions of metal and hip hop, it’s embarrassing for these songs to lack any spontaneity.
I don’t hate the idea of ONE MORE LIGHT as much as others do, but I do despise the execution. Linkin Park pull from the most unexciting and manufactured styles of pop rather than build on the alt-pop demos or simply continue with the industrial, expansive electronica from LIVING THINGS. More than anything, the band’s defensiveness about the whole affair is just embarrassing, and I wish they would just own up to what they did, or at least not have transparently gone in the most unadventurous and commercially safe direction. The worst thing about ONE MORE THING is that in the end, the music doesn’t even matter to the band.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend