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Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns

2011-05-26 00:00
As one of the biggest bands to emerge form the early noughties' obsession with aggressive, anthemic rock music (nu-metal, we called it) Linkin Park have managed to keep their head above water even as the tide turned towards more melodic pursuits. Name-dropping Papa Roach, Deftones and Korn just doesn’t have the same effect as it once did.

Always the least offensive of the lot spawned from the genre (they eschewed profanity-laden rage for tunes their large 13 to 17-year-old fanbase could play in the car while Mummy drove them to school) Linkin Park always seemed to be on the brink of not really bothering anymore as various members decided to explore solo ventures.

Their re-emergence this year with the exhilarating single "The Catalyst" was something of a relief for me, a long-time LP guilty-pleasurer (wait, that doesn’t sound right). It's a beautifully textured electro-clash stomp that follows their tradition of re-appropriating highly emotive and visual socialist slogans for actual lyrics.

Let's not kid ourselves that Linkin Park have anything, well, substantial to say about modern society, the recession and - heaven forbid - politics, but they sure sound like these issues haunt their every waking thought.

And so a plaintive song like "Burning in the Skies" is heavy on the evocative buzzwords – "blood", "storm", the refrain of "I'm losing what I don’t deserve" – but what has possibly gotten them so downtrodden? With LP, you’re hardly ever going to be sure. But somehow you feel it too.

Things pick up considerably on "When They Come For Me", where rapper/songwriter Mike Shinoda takes over and actually drops a few f-bombs over some Eastern-influenced beats. Either they, like Beyoncé, have been listening to M.I.A. for inspiration, or perhaps the East really holds that mystical solution we've all been looking for.

Their heart-on-sleeve rhetoric may be easy to mock, but LP have always been irresistable when their passion and melodies collide and create that sense of solidarity, as A Thousand Suns often does. Even when they appear to be ripping off a theme song for a particular soft drink ad campaign on "Waiting for the End" or lock into that universal feeling of loss, desperation and failure on a pretty song like "Iridescent" and find a way for it to do the work of a couple hours of therapy.

Sometimes all we need is to know that a bunch of rock stars feel the same way we do about stuff, man.

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