Artist: Linkin Park
Title: One More Light
Genre: Pop/Pop Rock/Electropop
Release Date: May 19, 2017
Length: 35 min.
Label: Warner Bros./Machine Shop
Producer: Brad Delson and Mike Shinoda
Personnel: Chester Bennington (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Rob Bourdon (drums, backing vocals), Brad Delson (guitar, backing vocals), Phoenix (bass, backing vocals), Joe Hahn (programming, backing vocals), and Mike Shinoda (keyboard, programming, lead vocals)
Special Guests: Kiiara, Pusha T, and Stormzy
Let’s just get this out of the way: Linkin Park’s newest album is terrible.
And yet it’s still selling well. According to Loudwire, One More Light has landed Linkin Park once again atop the Billboard charts. It’s the band’s seventh record, and it’s their seventh studio album to open in the Billboard Top 10. It’s also their sixth album at number one. The numbers place them beside these “rock” groups with six releases at number one: Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Eagles, and Metallica.
Like Ice-T says on his new song, “Civil War”: “The public is dumb.”
People are truly crazy. For real!
Ok, ok. I’ll settle down. Hey, for anyone who likes One More Light, more power to you. It’s not for me, but I am an advocate for following your own individual tastes. Don’t let other people tell you what kind of media to consume.
But, yeah, One More Light is crap. The sad thing is, it’s not the kind of crap that you can relish hating. No, no. It’s worse than that. One More Light is so bland that I pretty much forgot everything I’d heard on it fifteen minutes after the album’s thirty-five minutes of vanilla ice-cream pop was over.
That’s right. This is one-hundred percent freaking pop. There’s no rock in sight. There’s no nu-metal or alternative. Linkin Park has delivered the biggest disappointment of their career, not with another jumbled mess like A Thousand Suns (which I actually like more than most people do), but with an insultingly major “f you” to its core audience.
And that’s with this album coming directly after The Hunting Party, which many – myself included – considered a fine return to harder rock form for the band.
I have a questionnaire for you:
Would you like Linkin Park to make, by far, their most cynical, commercial, cash-grabby, contrived album yet?
If Linkin Park’s past albums are all varying quality burgers, would you like this release to be a salad?
Would you like the dressing to take everything good about Linkin Park’s past sound and dilute it down as far as possible?
Would you like the salad to be a bland amalgamation of Coldplay, Owl City, Avicii, Skrillex, Ed Sheeran, Twenty One Pilots, and The Chainsmokers?
Would you like that bland pop salad to be composed and performed more generically than any (that’s right, any) work by those bands I just mentioned?
If you answered yes to any of those five questions, One More Light is for you. Go give it a shot. If you answered no to all the questions, then avoid this release, unless you are a masochist.
Actually, it doesn’t offer anything for masochists either. It’s too boring!
Oh, I’ve got it! I know an excellent use for it. Play it so you can go to sleep! One More Light is scientifically proven to ease you into slumber 97% faster than ambient sounds!
The only good things I can really say about this are that the featured guests (Pusha T, Stormzy, and Kiiara) do a decent job, Bennington’s lead vocals are good, DJ Hahn does the best with what he’s given to do, and the production is high quality and fine, though it has far too much shiny, mainstream studio sheen.
Maybe Linkin Park needs to go back to ole’ Rick Rubin, as scary, freaky, and bearded as he may be.
My favorite songs on the album . . . I barely remember any of them. From the first notes of “Nobody Can Save Me,” you feel like you’re hearing the music at your local mall. Maybe this album has an American Eagle future. The intro and chorus of “Talking to Myself” are kind of rock ‘n’ roll. “Battle Symphony” and “Invisible” have some memorable repetitive lyrics, but they’re just lazy. When Bennington and Kiiara are so self-seriously singing “Heavy” with lines like “Why is everything so heavy?”, it just makes me laugh out loud and think of Marty McFly saying that word. Heavy, man! Even the title track, the song the band apparently takes the most pride in, the piece they wanted to center the album around, is one of the most snooze-inducing songs on the album, both lyrically and musically. But I don’t really want to make too much fun of the song, with how Linkin Park has been dedicating it to Chris Cornell. The album’s closer “Sharp Edges” sounds like a direct Avicii ripoff. Everything here is super sappy sweet and trying too hard to be sentimental, also often coming across as whiny.
Needless to say, I don’t like One More Light, not because it left a bad taste in my mouth, but because it left no taste whatsoever.
I’m going to give Linkin Park’s One More Light a 39%.
Look, I’m not necessarily the biggest Linkin Park fan, but I do like some of their stuff, and, yeah, this was a big disappointment. But, honestly, despite this rant, I’m not quite as surprised as some people by this new direction for the guys. I recently went back through Linkin Park’s discography, and I can hear One More Light‘s sonic seeds being planted in moments on Minutes to Midnight, A Thousand Suns, Living Things, and even a tiny bit on The Hunting Party.
Could Linkin Park come back from this? Yeah, probably. Look at how Metallica recovered after St. Anger and Lulu! Other popular bands have done the same, and so can Linkin Park. Will they? We’ll have to see. This one’s making them a ton of money, and if it leads them in a good direction commercially, we might lose them forever. Who knows?