Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Record Label: Warner Bros. Music
When I was in middle school, there were 'rockers', 'rappers', and 'posers'. If you listened to Good Charlotte or Green Day, then you were a 'rocker'. If you listened to Eminem or that "Move Bitch" song by Ludacris, then you were a 'rapper'. And basically, if you listened to Linkin Park, then you were a 'poser'. What do you call a person who listens to Linkin Park now?
Well truth be told, there really is only a slight dilemma here. Most of you probably don't have many friends, if any, who will be giving Linkin Park's fourth studio album, A Thousand Suns, much of their attention. The reasoning behind this is simple: repeat listens into this record are, quite literally, pain-inducing. As I sit here, my head throbbing, I can't fully grasp the notion that the same band that wrote commercially acclaimed rap metal albums Hybrid Theory and Meteora actually wrote this record. Those who were disappointed in LP's change of style with the release of 2007's Minutes To Midnight better prepare to face an entirely new level of despair.
Maybe it's the fact that they've sold over 18 million albums in the United States alone. Maybe Mike Shinoda, Chester Bennington & Co just want to show how "diverse" they can be as musicians. Whatever the reasoning for the stylistic change on A Thousand Suns, only one thing is certain. This band is currently riding the fast lane towards irrelevancy in 2010.
Shinoda and Bennington have been quoted as saying that this album is "surreal" and that they were going for a concept record here. Some reviewers have compared their "progression" to a developing stage in U2's timeline, and others have mentioned this new album in the same breath as Radiohead's Kid A. Maybe everything is going over my head here, or maybe I imported the wrong record into my iTunes, but I can't imagine A Thousand Suns being remembered as anything besides an embarrassment to a band that once dominated a global stage.
From the utterly confusing two opening songs to the absolute worst song that Linkin Park have ever released, "Blackout", to the questionable-at-best acoustic ballad closer "The Messenger", A Thousand Suns proves to be a practice in futility. It's painstakingly obvious that the band were going for something remarkable here, a grand album with plenty of underlying themes that at the same time shows how versatile they are as musicians. The group definitely reach out to new things this time around, as rap metal scurries out the window as an even remotely close genre description. There is a lot of electronic presence on the record, along with heavy vocal editing at times and effects that serve the purpose of trying to give depth to the music.
The result is an album whose 15 tracks blur together into one 47-minute long haze of electro-rock with hints of hip hop culture. The heavy guitar riffs present on every Linkin Park album thus far are for the most part gone on A Thousand Suns. "When They Come For Me" features a little riff and Shinoda rapping, but the feel of the track is strange and the chorus absolutely ruins things. "Waiting for the End" and "Wretches and Kings" also feature more traditional instrumentation from the group, but both songs are spoiled by certain features. The former is boring when Bennington sings, and simply awkward to listen to when Shinoda is singing; he barely ever records normal vocals instead of rapping, and this song demonstrates that he should probably stick to his true calling. The latter has the makings of a song that might call for repeat listens but a flaky Jamaican accent makes it unlistenable.
As you near the end of the record, you realize what a trip it has been. First single "The Catalyst" comes in and smoothes things out, undoubtedly the strongest track on the record. This is perhaps the worst thing I've said about A Thousand Suns thus far, because this song really isn't that good and doesn't have any lasting value with the listener.
In essence, A Thousand Suns is a record with no real character or substance. It's very focused - actually too focused - and Linkin Park pigeonholed themselves into a sound that has little chance for success among diehard fans and mainstream listeners alike. This album has no lasting value and will be forgotten at the conclusion of the year when critics make their lists of the good things that happened to music in 2010. In a year where so many bands have pushed themselves to their breaking points and have found a true niche, Linkin Park have produced a release that leaves them absolutely nowhere. It's hard for me to imagine a world where any of these songs other than "The Catalyst" gets radio play, and it's hard for me to fathom a true Linkin Park fan that would receive A Thousand Suns with an exclamation of ecstasy. It's even more difficult to imagine the band performing these songs live in a set that includes songs like "Papercut" and "Somewhere I Belong". Maybe that's what Linkin Park should do next...find where they belong.
Gave this album a listen and wasn't too disappointed. I agree that they need to bring back the heavy guitars and utilize Mike more as a rapper, but the album as a whole was decent IMO. God, those faux-Jamaican accent irked me though on "Wretches and Kings"
RIYL's always make me laugh haha.
And pretty much agree with this entire review. There's about 6 or 7 tracks that are complete filler and no longer than a minute. 'Robot Boy' is probably my favorite off this album.
Good review and I agree. The Catalyst was the only song I could really say that I enjoyed off of this record and most of the interludes seemed really pointless. I loved Hybrid Theory, Reanimation, and Meteora when I was younger and this album makes me sad.
The expiremental sound WAS a bit out of left field, but one that was welcomed by this listener. I know that a lot of people want them to bring back that heavier sound. But if they didn't, that'd be fine with me.