Album Review : Linkin Park - One More Light (2017)
Order ONE MORE LIGHT here (or don't)
Iconic nu metal band Linkin Park released their new album One More Light in the most nu metal fashion possible last Friday, with threats of punching critics it in their fucking mouth. This would normally get me all riled up for another record full of disproportionate anger directed at treacherous girlfriends and haters that don't exist. One More Light turned out to be a colossal letdown, though. Linkin Park have strayed from their metal influences in the past on A Thousand Suns, another terrible album that had the merit of being driven by an interesting concept but One More Light is a new low. This album is trash. I try to stay respectful of any art whenever possible but let's call a cat a cat here.
My first reaction to One More Light was disbelief. Was it a joke? Linkin Park's never been the most die-hard, uncompromising rock act, but this album doesn't have anything to do with whatever they came up with in the past. The single Heavy could've been sung by Katy Perry and promoted with a video where she drags a comically heavy ball and chain that symbolizes her burdensome emotional baggage and people would've said: "Look, it's Katy doing her thing." Not only Linkin Park is unrecognizable on One More Light, it's also impossible to differentiate from whatever's playing on bullshit top 40 radio stations. I made a test before writing this review and played the opener Nobody Can Save Me to Josie and she could not identify the artist. The closes guest she came up with was Justin Timberlake and added: "but it's not a very good song of his."
One More Light is an unexpected and undesired pop record, but it's not a good one. And I'm fine with pop. I've enjoyed Beyoncé's latest album a lot. I'm a fierce defender of Michael Jackson's musical legacy. But this music has a strong sense of an identity, you know? But it's impossible to confuse Don't Hurt Yourself or In The Closet with any other song. Every song on One More Light could be confused with something from another suspiciously popular pop, especially the catchiest material. Sorry for Now could've very well been on a Train record, Sharp Edges on a Lumineers albums, Battle Symphony is obviously inspired by Rachel Platten's Fight Song, you're not fooling anyone here Linkin Park. The Linkin-Parkiest song on the record is Good Goodbye featuring Pusha T and Stormzy and it's also probably the worst Linkin Park song you've ever heard. What the fuck does Good Goodbye even mean? The song is a basketball metaphor, was it too difficult to find a related term for the title?
What angers the most about One More Light is the boldness of the lie Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda are trying to shove down our throat. Bennington's been insulting and threatening whoever's been calling them sellouts in various media like an angry 14 yeas old, but who the fuck is he kidding here? This is as straightforward of a sellout as it gets. Linkin Park released The Hunting Party in 2014, sales weren't good so they publicly consulted Harvard Business School about their future in 2015. Two years later, they inexplicably release a boring and derivative album that has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with their brand and they expect fans not to put 2 and 2 together? C'mon. Chester Bennington, I'll gladly fistfight you over this if this is what you want, but you're defending this record so aggressively and irrationally because you know it sucks and you know you sold out. At least be upfront about this with people who followed your career and bought (some of) your records since the beginning.
Linkin Park are not the first artist who attempt reinventing themselves. Bands like Radiohead and Death Grips reinvent themselves with every record, but subverting their audience's expectations is part of their identity. This is not what happens here. One More Light is a desperate and foolish attempt at getting mainstream attention back. I wouldn't have balked if this was a solo project by Chester Bennington or wasn't named Linkin Park. I wouldn't have paid attention to it, but I wouldn't have balked. Plenty of bands explore musical boundaries through side projects. The late great Chris Cornell *, may he rest in peace, went solo when he wanted to do experiment with different sound and it was great because it was done honestly and his music was earnest. One More Light is the furthest thing from being an earnest record and "a risk" like Bennington likes to call it. If he wanted to take a risk he would've not used his established brand to try and squeeze as many sales as possible out of that stupid record.
I'm sure you'll notice I haven't spoken of the actual music a lot in this review. Not many reviews of One More Light do, to be honest. Critics are too baffled by the overall product and, to be honest, there isn't much to say about it. It's bland, cliché and derivative pop music that sounds exactly like everything you've heard on the radio over the last two years. It's not just bad pop, it's bad microwaved pop. I'd rather eat microwaved KFC leftovers than buy this record. One More Light is trash, but I would not suggest completely ignoring it. Give it a spin on Spotify, have a good laugh and wonder what the fuck Linkin Park are doing with their career and delete it from your memory. In the immortal words of Gob Bluth, this was a huge mistake. Bennington and Shinoda should acknowledging and move on, even if it means disbanding to explore other musical opportunities. Because they're going on the wrong direction.
* I feel dirty just using his name in this review.