Linkin Park, One More Light | Album Review
Linkin Park returns with its seventh studio album, ‘One More Light.’ Unfortunately, fans wanting more bite will get more pop instead.
Linkin Park are back – in name only. Returning with their seventh studio album, One More Light, clearly, Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda, and company aren’t trying to rock as much as they did on The Hunting Party (2014). Taking that a step further, they don’t look to rock nearly as much as any of their past work. So, what is the modus operandi on One More Light? Maturity, reflection, empowerment – grown-folk/adult matters. Yes, Linkin Park has grown up – “for better or for worse.”
“Nobody Can Save Me”
“Nobody Can Save Me” establishes the pop-oriented tone of the album from the onset. To its credit, the opener has a catchy chorus. Also, it showcases the newfound maturity from Linkin Park. From the start, it’s clear Chester Bennington needs a fix, and he is the only proponent of such a fix. Why? Because “nobody can save me now.” Oh boy.
“Good Goodbye” brings Stormzy and Pusha T into the mix. First, following the chorus delivered by Bennington, Mike Shinoda steps to the mic, making his first appearance of the album. Given the appearance of rappers, “Good Goodbye” embraces a more hip-hop oriented sound, contrasting the opener. Pusha T takes the second verse, delivering fire as always. Stormzy handles rhyming duties on the third verse.
“Talking to Myself” once more has pop elements – J.R. Rotem is among the names gracing writing/production team. Still, “Talking to Myself” does have a dash of rock, specifically on the chorus. Does Bennington say much throughout his self-conversation? No, he doesn’t reveal much, nor is “Talking to Myself” feel or sound ‘brand new.’
“Battle Symphony” is about showing incredible resolve, despite adversity. On the verses, Bennington reflects on his deficiencies:
“Blood on the floor / Sirens repeat / I been searching for the courage / To face my enemies…”
By the chorus, he’s determined he’ll overcome everything that’s holding him back – “…Just don’t give up on me.” As a song, it’s okay, but arguably still suffers from being too happy and uncharacteristic of the band. It’s not a disaster by any means, though.
“Invisible” features intriguing subject matter that hasn’t been associated with Linkin Park in the past – parenting! There are a lot of angles to look at “Invisible” from. One is to give them credit for tackling this topic and showcasing maturity. Another is to listen with mouth agape at the fact that THE Linkin Park are both giving parenting advice and reflecting on parenting regret. While “Invisible” doesn’t come off as the most memorable song of 2017, it does feature a catchy chorus:
“I was not mad at you / I was not trying to tear you down / The words that I could’ve used / I was too scared to say out loud / If I cannot break your fall / I’ll pick you up right off the ground / If you felt invisible, I won’t let you feel that now.”
Promo single “Heavy,” featuring up-and-coming artist Kiiara, arrives as the sixth track on One More Light. Ultimately, it plays better in the context of the album compared to its run as a single. Still, this is a big pop single as opposed to alt-rock or metal. As he does throughout the course of the album, Bennington holds back as opposed to pushing. Give Linkin Park credit for the poetic lyrics and heavy subject matter. The song itself may lack a big, anthemic quality, but it at least tackles weight. As for Kiiara, she’s much more respectable here compared to her own singles, namely “Gold.”
“Sorry for Now”
Mike Shinoda handles the vocal reins on “Sorry for Now.” Once more, the focus is on parenting.
“And I’ll be sorry for now / That I couldn’t be around / Sometimes things refuse / To go the way we planned…”
Like the majority of One More Light, the production work is slick, employing the full bag of tricks. On “Halfway Right,” Bennington is in full-on reflective mode. On the first verse, he foreshadows the forthcoming chorus. Then, the heaviness ensues:
“Used to get high with the dead-end kids / Abandoned houses where the shadows lived / I never been higher than I was that night / I woke up driving my car…”
Ultimately, what’s the point of “Halfway Right?” Internal struggles. A song by R&B singer/songwriter Stacy Barthe comes to mind: “Me vs. Me.” Tackling such heavy subject matter is respectable, even if “Halfway Right” is no gem.
“One More Light”
The same can be said about penultimate joint, “One More Light.” Simply put, it’s morbid. There’s no angst, as there’s little throughout the album, but the title track is by far the saddest song from the album. Reflective, the big rub is the lack of development. The messaging is sound, but truly shaping this song more would’ve propelled it to the next level. One More Light concludes successfully with “Sharp Edges,” which has more bite than the title track, but still doesn’t sizzle.
Ultimately, One More Light is a flawed effort. Linkin Park shouldn’t be bullied because they don’t plan on making another Hybrid Theory, but still, it’s clear Bennington and company need a reboot – a refresh. One More Light isn’t it.
Gems: “Good Goodbye,” “Heavy” & “Sorry for Now”