One More Light is Linkin Park’s seventh studio album, and their first album since 2014’s The Hunting Party. One More Light marks a significant change in the bands hard rock sound, taking their direction into the pop genre. This move in sound has been met with significant backlash from fans, with the lead single “Heavy” subject to the most backlash.
Overall, I really dig this album. Initially, when I first heard Heavy, the fact the song wasn’t so poppy was what surprised me. It was the dueling vocals between Linkin Park’s lead vocalist Chester Bennington, and U.S. singer, Kiiara. It felt familiar, but different. The song has a vibe to it that reminds me of when I heard Breaking the Habit for the first time. The song felt like Linkin Park, but has it’s own flavour that can be easily distinguishable from the rest of their catalogue.
Chester is singing at his best on their album, and the album gives him plenty of opportunity to belt out songs that showcase his ability to sing. Halfway Right and Battle Symphony are all the evidence you need to hear how much his vocals have improved over the years. Mike only has a few chances to perform vocals on this record, however he shines on tracks like Invisible (a song he performs solo) and Sorry for Now.
A lot of the electronic work on the album seems to get pumped from Joe Hahn’s DJ set up and Rob Bourdon’s electric drum pads. As for Brad Delson and Dave Farrell, there isn’t music bass or guitar on the album for them to throw into the mix. But I feel certain tracks like Nobody Can Save Me and Invisible will take on a life of their own live and will be absolute monsters.
The album’s two singles so far are songs that have featured artists. On Heavy, electropop artist Kiiara’s features prominently, while on Good Goodbye, the track features Pusha T (one half of hip-hop duo Clipse) on the second verse, and U.K. grime rapper, Stormzy, features on the third.
Previous to One More Light, Linkin Park were notorious for writing material within the band, and without external help from songwriters and producers. However, after working with musicians like The Lonely Island, Martin Garrix and One Ok Rock, they decided to open the door on collaborating with other songwriters and artists. This is the main reason why the album deviates from their previous releases.
I don’t feel it suffers because of that either. Linkin Park have always been a band about delivering a message via their lyrics. By utilising external songwriters, they’ve been able to craft some of the best material they have ever written, alongside some of the best vocal performances the band have ever put forward to recording.
The album opens with Nobody Can Save Me, which is a pretty good opening track for the album. Off the bat, Chester’s vocals set the tone for what is to come on the album. And considering how light and fluffy the instrumentation is, it’s a pretty dark track lyrically. Regardless, it has the Linkin Park stamp all over it. Following that song is the album’s second single, Good Goodbye. Now this(!) is a prime example of where Linkin Park mash their older style with what they want to try on this album. While Mike, Pusha T and Stormzy rip their raps on the track, Chester weaves a pop hook through the raps to break them up.
Talking to Myself is next, and this one is definitely an album highlight. The chorus absolutely rips. I can easily see this being a live staple with how easy it would be to have the crowd screaming “Yeah I know, Yeah I know, Yeah I know I’m just talking to myself”. Coming next on the album are probably my three favourite songs.
Battle Symphony a big, sweeping pop epic. The vocals on this song are the strongest. There isn’t really much I can say about the song, because the song does all the work! Next is Invisible, which is easily my favourite song on the album. The best part about it, is that Mike sings! He’s never really been given a chance to act outside of his normal rapping, which I’m now learning has been a mistake. He can hold a tune, and his vocals do a good job of breaking the album up.
At the halfway point of the album is Heavy. I’ve previously stated how I felt about the song hearing it outside the context of the album. However, inside the album, it takes on a whole new life. Battle Symphony, Invisible and Heavy one after the other give the listener a feeling that it’s okay to not be the strongest person in the world. Battle Symphony is about protecting yourself, Invisible is about shutting those around you out, and Heavy is about dealing with the dread of life. Three powerful songs, one after the other.
Sorry for Now is another Mike song where he sings. And I gotta say, it’s still weird to hear him sing, but I wish they’d let him do it more. The pipes Mike has are amazing. The only issue I could really take with the song is the electronic bridge after the choruses, which feels like a generic electro breakdown. There is nothing original about it, which sucks. The song does feature a “Mike-style” feature from Chester in the back third of the song which took me by surprise. It was definitely a good surprise though!
From here, the album falls off a little. It almost feels like they thought “Okay, we have seven really good tracks. But we need 10. Let’s throw these three on, I guess”. Halfway Right is an okay song, which when you look at the seven songs that came before it, is a bit of a disappointment. The song goes full on with pop music tropes, including the “vocals over nothing but a slowly played piano” trope that kinda annoys me on songs.
After Halfway Right is the title track, One More Light. The song is a mostly acoustic-style track. It’s their “big ballad at the back end of the album” we’ve come to expect from their previous albums. But in the vain of their other “big back end ballads” like Pushing Me Away, Numb, The Little Things Take You Away, The Messenger, Powerless and Final Masquerade, One More Light just doesn’t cut it.
The album closes on Sharp Edges, which is probably the most surprising song on the album. It has a Mumford & Sons/Of Monsters and Men vibe to it, with the acoustic guitar and light drumming backing up Chester singing loud and boldly. It’s a song that just don’t fit the tone of the rest of the album, and is an odd choice for the album closer. It’s a good song, just not in the context of what they wanted to do with this album.
Overall, the album is solid. Something I’ve always said is that Linkin Park isn’t a genre. Linkin Park is six guys making music they want to make. They’ve evolved with the times, and made some pretty good music with that evolution. While this is not at Hybrid Theory/Meteora levels of epic, it still holds up against the rest of their discography, and while there is some backlash about the album’s direction now, it will become a more loved album over time.
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