Album review: 'Living Things'

It doesn’t suck.

There, I said it. Now all the people praying that Linkin Park would finally release a decent album can relax.

The album “Living Things” is quite short, clocking in at just under 37 minutes, and could use at least one more song.

The first song, “Lost in the Echo,” is probably the best track on the whole album. It starts off with a calm electronic beat but quickly transitions into a heavier, distorted guitar riff. The song showcases how vocalist Chester Bennington and rapper Mike Shinoda are both in top form on this album, feeding off each other’s energy and merging their talents in a way we haven’t seen since Linkin Park’s 2003 release “Meteora”. We also get some satisfying screams from Bennington, the first of many to come throughout the album.

However, the album does stumble in a few places. The lead single, “Burn it Down,” is very catchy, but it drags on for too long and isn’t completely redeemed by Shinoda’s fantastic rapping in the second half of the song. The heaviest track on the album, “Victimized,” is only saved by Shinoda’s raps, as Bennington’s screams feel glaringly forced.

The good on “Living Things” does outweigh the bad, though. Older fans will undoubtedly nod with approval when they hear “Castle of Glass,” which plays like a more mellow version of “Breaking the Habit” off of Meteora. “Until It Breaks” offers another great mix of Shinoda and Bennington, the former opening the song sharply and the latter calmly ending it. And the pulse-pounding “Lies Greed Misery” is driving and full of the kind of energy that we haven’t heard from this group in a very long time.

The production on the album is phenomenal, and almost every song feels very polished, making the mixture of electronic beats and more conventional rock-music blend almost seamlessly.

Something is missing, though.

Shinoda is flawless, and improves every single song he appears on, but he isn’t always there. Honestly, my biggest bone to pick with this album is that Shinoda is only present on six of the album’s 12 tracks.

Overall, the album isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than Linkin Park’s previous two outings. It has great beats, production, energy, and, most importantly, doesn’t feel phoned in. Hopefully, this is the group’s first step back onto the path of making great music once more.

Verdict: Blending an electronic vibe with its old-school sound, Linkin Park creates its first record in nine years worth listening to.

Reach reporter Nathan Taft at arts@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @NathanTaft

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