Monday, 18 June 2012

Linkin Park-A look at the timeline

Every LP fan is looking forward to the big event-the release of “Living Things”. Despite their disappointment on the past couple of albums, the release is a thing of excitement. Will this album make up for all the “We liked the Linkin Park of Hybrid theory (HT) and Meteora better” fans? What was in their first couple of albums that the fans seem to lack in their later ones?

I go back to the time I first listened to an LP song: ‘Numb’, from Meteora. It was the first time for a lot of other things as well-I listened to a tinge of rap, to some screaming, some electronic music-all for the first time. The best part, all of this came with a beautiful set of down-to-earth lyrics.

All the songs I’d heard before this one were majorly themed around romance. And, I was thinking of ‘Numb’ the same way. (Except for a few lines, you could actually correlate the lyrics with a breakup) The bigger surprise for the early-teen I was then, came when I saw the video. How the whole idea did not fantasize things, dealt with a common problem with some great music. And definitely to mention, an Indian’s idea of a DECENT video!

These were the factors that made LP a hit: great lyrics (In the end’s was one of their best); beautifully contrasting voices and styles of Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda; no annoyingly unrelated swearing (Though the trend was broken in a song in ‘A thousand suns’); their painstaking efforts in making an awesome, creative video. If I ever had to deal with a teenage kid, I’d suggest him/her to start listening to LP’s-their songs are tailor made for them, no nonsense stuff, guiding and revelatory,with a desired punch.

But for adults? There was a problem: the problem the band has been facing in their last few albums. The music culture of the west tends to categorize the artists; and they expect them to hold on to it. (Unlike in India where the album makers are less and the most influential music directors HAVE to try different styles.) LP was tagged to be Nu metal in the beginning of their career. But they tried everything on their albums-rock, metal, alternative, close-to-pop…They even split teams on worked on ‘Fort Minor’ and ‘Dead by sunrise’ only to realise that it was their contrasting unison that gave better results. And, this was the problem. They did not stick to what was assigned but were experimenting: a venture that appealed me personally but contradicted the opinion of various other fans across the world.

Coming back to “Living Things”, their first single ‘Burn it down’ is doing pretty good on the charts. They’ve given a streak of the HT experience to their new experiment-thus welcomed more. Though not as surprising as ‘Catalyst’ from their previous album (where they had evolved into something totally different), it still holds some surprises. They’ve let go of their trend of having a small part of instrumentals in the middle of the song (unique to ‘A thousand suns’)-you don’t find it in this single. But nonetheless, it was nice. Mike does a good job with the rap, but the lyrics are not great. The rhyme appears to be unnecessarily inserted. (They’ve come up with some incredible lyrics in the past without the need of rhyme in it. But we can’t deny the fact that they also have given some more incredible rhyming lyrics) All of these are easily forgiven when compared to the error that bothers most critics-the chorus. The contrasting voices of the lead singers don’t go hand in hand when it comes to the chorus and is the major let down.

But still I tend to like the song especially after their performance at the Bill board. listen to their live performances of some song of ‘A thousand suns’, you’ll easily realise how much their singing has undergone the digital modification. But this song ‘Burn it down’ showcases the actual ability of the singers and thus burns down the entire dilemma on Chester and Mike’s singing skills the world had had. (Chester was able to do it even with the highly acclaimed ‘Rolling in the deep’ cover)

Now, the video part- LP has developed itself to some high quality graphics and better themes over the years. One cannot deny the advent of metallic shades and blue hues in the videos-and yeah, a small, almost invisible Japanese influence, thanks to Mike Shinoda. (I couldn’t avoid but relate a segment of ‘Burning in the skies’ to Michael Kenji Shinoda aka Mike’s family story) The video of ‘Burn it down’ was shot in a day (!) and thus a trend breaker for LP who usually puts in the same amount of time and effort into their videos as into their music.

Did they compromise on the quality? The video is great-the ambience and the effects are great. (Specially, the parts that are good enough to be screenshots) But, Chester’s cheesy movements in the beginning of the video-err… wasn’t expecting that buddy. Having seen him fierce, this reminded me of the video of ‘Paper cut’ where he was jumping around a little ridiculously. But still, DJ Joe Hahn does a good job with the direction.

 ‘Burn it down’ has given a head start for ‘Living things’. LP seems to have considered the plea of their disappointed fans (not me) and have tried including some elements. Let’s see if they park some awards.

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