Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Linkin Park have been one of the biggest rock / alternative acts of the past 15 years. Personally I find them pretty dull, but their newest album takes things to a whole new level of insipid. Mike Shinoda’s cookie-cutter, middle class white-boy rapping is squared of by Chester Bennington’s caterwauling and sing-along, nursery rhyme choruses. The presence of electric guitars is negligible at best, as they are so over-produced and compressed that they lose all sense of being a physical instrument, and turn into a characterless electronic buzz. The pacified rock tone is further diluted by the presence of saturated electro-pop and dubstep synth, played with so little finesse or creativity, that even the instruments sound bored by the bog standard chord progressions they’re being forced to play. The overarching problem with this album is how restricted and neutered it is. A lot of money has been thrown in the band’s direction to ensure it has a big, clean, shiny finish, but it never strides into any particular emotion. Rather it coasts in a continual state of forced mediocrity that has been clinically formulated to ensure maximum crowd participation and lighter waving as they indulge in a faux rebellion that won’t upset mummy and daddy.
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