…This album sucks!
Sorry, sorry. I know that’s not a very professional way of starting a review, but I had to just cut right to the point. One More Light, the 7th studio album from long-running nu-metal band Linkin Park, is easily one of the lousiest releases of the entire year.
This becomes abundant as soon as you hit play and are greeted with the first track, “Nobody Can Save Me”. The listener’s greeted with calming, warbled, easy listening synths and light clapping in the background, and immediately it’s just really off-putting. Things only get worse when paying attention to the vocals as Chester Bennington whines and moans his way through a clumsy, bland song about fighting his own inner demons. It’s not a strongly written tune as it sounds completely limp for a song about someone being tortured by their own anxieties and life issues. To draw a comparison, Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” is a similar song with similar subject matter, and while that song isn’t good either, even that sounds more pained than this.
“Good Goodbye” continues the trend of limp music at odds with lyrical subject matter that is meant to be tortured/emotionally intense as the lyrics are about burning bridges to failed relationships. The lyrics portray a very confrontational mindset, but the actual composition is really weak to the point where not even Mike Shinoda can give it any heft. Rappers Pusha T and Stormzy lend guest verses here, and while they at least try, their collective bravado can’t really save this song. Similarly, “Battle Symphony”, a song which promises intensity just from the title alone, deals with preparing yourself for the challenges and conflicts of the world, but it is neither a symphony nor a song to go into battle with. It makes Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” sound like an actual fight song.
The rest of the album is like this: Lifeless compositions used to support lyrics about various emotional struggles, whether they be about communicating complicated truths to loved ones (“Invisible”), battling personal turmoil (“Halfway Right”, “Heavy”), or similar topics, all with the same kind of musical style. Linkin Park has now seemed to take the Maroon 5 path of watering down their sound with contemporary moody pop beats that would feel right at home on a collection of Chainsmokers b-sides, seemingly pushing any member that isn’t Chester or Mike off to the wayside. Very few, if any, of the songs here sound like they were written and performed by an actual band with possibly the only exceptions being “Sorry For Now” (incorporating some ‘80s soft rock guitar bits) and the acoustic album closers “One More Light” and “Sharp Edges”.
The aforementioned contradiction of lyrical subject matter and musical style is ultimately what drags everything down. Now, change is not inherently a bad thing as many bands have managed to evolve or radically change their sound to great success (Deftones are a good example from the same genre), but said change has to still bring good songs with it. And it’s not like Linkin Park hasn’t managed to write emotional songs like this that turned out alright. They’ve tried this with songs before like on the album A Thousand Suns or the tracks “Valentine’s Day” and “The Little Things Give You Away” from Minutes to Midnight. But the music here is the stiffest, unmemorable, and most emotionally inert kind of music they could have chosen to transition into. The music here is as safe and stale as it gets, neatly trying to coincide with mainstream trends towards EDM-influenced vaguely moody pop tunes. There’s nothing memorable or engaging about how any of the songs here are written or performed as half the time it seems like the band themselves doesn’t even want to be here doing any of this. Say what you will about the band’s previous albums and some of the cringey nu-metal digressions they always got into, but at the very least those albums could often be bad in a way that was memorable and you weren’t likely to forget any time after.
I really have nothing else to add to this as I think I’ve said everything that needs to be said. One More Light is 35 minutes of bland pop tunes that lack any of the emotional impact that the lyrics suggest they’re supposed to. It’s such a lifeless empty album that it’s almost like it might as well not even exist. In fact, does this album even exist? Are we sure someone didn’t slip the world some brown acid and we’re all just collectively hallucinating this album’s existence? Either way, One More Light is easily the biggest waste of time this year, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to listen. And one more thing: if you have to threaten physical violence against any critics of your music to defend your artistic choices, Chester, maybe that proves they’re right? Just saying.
Verdict: Skip it. Just don’t even bother at all.
One More Light is available from Warner Brothers Records and Machine Shop Records on CD, vinyl, digital download, and streaming services.