So, how’s Linkin Park’s new album Minutes to Midnight?
Well, the band’s said they worked on this for like 14 months, recording around 100 songs, and choosing the best ones. The band also has stated that the style of the music is going to be different from their usual Linkin Park style yet will ‘breathe’ Linkin Park. Unfortunately, it seems this is not quite true.
After hearing the album in its correct track order for the first time, I was like “what the…?” — There was a mix of clapping, hip-hop style singing, and romantic songs. Where’s LP in all of that?, I said to myself. Then I heard the full album again, and though some beauty arose, still, Linkin Park was not there.
“Wake” – the introductory music-only track – starts quietly, and then jumps to a climax. The quietness is dull, and the climax is not that good, lacking instrumental elements and rhyme.
The next track “Given Up” could be the only track which is Linkin Park. Aggressive. Heavy music. I predict it would be the second single after “What I’ve Done”, which is, by the way, one of the best tracks in the album, and is pretty much Linkin Park, thankfully.
It’s very noticeable this time that the writing level has really advanced. It’s now deep, moving, and very accomodative with the aim of the song. It’s sometimes epic, like in the song “The Little Things Give You Away”, where Chester sings:
Water creeps through the windows, up the stairs…
Chilling rain like an ocean everywhere…
Hope decays, generations disappear…
Washed away as a nation simply stares…
There’s now only a few phrases like those we used to hear from LP: “Go away, don’t ignore me, leave me alone… etc”.
On the other hand, and contrary to the writing, the music is sub minimal and somewhat poor. Three songs utilize ‘clapping’ rhythms. Many songs lack guitar tunes. And in “In Between”, there’s almost no music at all. Probably the only track rich in music is “The Little Things Give You Away”, though like I’ve said earlier, it’s NOT Linkin Park.
“Bleed It Out” is one example of that ‘clapping-hip-hop” style. Though very entertaining and well-made, it would suit Mike’s side-project Fort Minor better than it does here.
Mike Shinoda hip-hops and sings in three songs, singing one alone: “In Between”. Despite his voice efficiency, the lack of rich music takes away a considerable amount of the beauty of the songs. In the song “Hands Held High”, Mike talks about the Iraq War, violence, and leaders. One sentence that caught my attention was:
It’s ironic at times like this you pray
But a bomb blew up the mosque yesterday
I’m not sure if mentioning ‘mosque’ here, and coupling it with praying and bombs, has a subtle or subliminal racist/offensive meaning. I hope not.
In the same song, Mike ends it with a great verse that I’d like to mention. I really like it a lot:
His hands held high into a sky so blue
As the ocean opens up to swallow you
As you’ve noticed, this is the first time LP sings about political issues. It’s also the first time for them to swear with words like “f***” granting their album a parental advisory label. In my opinion, I see no need for this. They could’ve replaced that word (which was said only a couple of time in a couple of songs) with any alternative word like “heck, damn,..etc”. Obviously, LP wanted to get bigger audience as many people lean towards parental advisory labeled discs.
For that reason, gaining more audience that is, a couple of songs are totally romantic e.g. “Valentine’s Day” and “Shadow Of The Day”, and another two include romantic phrases e.g. “Leave Out All The Rest”. Of course we – LP fans – did not expect such thing.
One moving aggressive song is “No More Sorrow” which talks about corrupt leaders or the like. It shows how lyrically mature the band has come to be. Chester sings:
Your crusade’s a disguise
Replace freedom with fear
You trade money for lives
I see pain
I see need
I see lies and thieves
Abused power with greed
So overall, Minutes to Midnight is a very-well-written, instrumentally-lacking, divergent-from-the-usual, politically-inspired, more-like-a-side-project, romantically-touched, and not-quite-Linkin-Park album.
Could Linkin Park do better than this? The answer is obvious: Yes.