One More Light, Linkin Park's seventh set, is a divisive and brazen statement from a band that already does not shy away from fearless experimental leaps. From the rap focus on Collision Course and the Fort Minor side project to the electronic A Thousand Suns and their remix albums, Linkin Park have balanced an empire built upon pain and angst with an admirable dose of cross-genre dabbling. Which is why One More Light shouldn't come as such a surprise. And yet, the album remains a jarring follow-up to 2014's muscular The Hunting Party and an overall curve ball in their catalog. Recruiting electronic pop producers like Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, Jesse Shatkin, and RAC, Linkin Park made a pop album, which is sure to infuriate diehards who yearn for the days of "shut up when I'm talking to you." While it's unfair to fault them for not being pissed off anymore, the experience is not the same. For the first time, the band sounds happy and content. Though while they may be at peace, their creativity took a bullet. There's a bevy of bright tropical notes and even some "na na na" choruses, tones that are dime a dozen on pop radio. The group is effectively neutered on One More Light: there's no feral screaming from Chester Bennington, there are barely any riffs, and DJ Hahn has disappeared beneath the textured studio sheen. The closest they toe to "rock" is "Talking to Myself," which has discernable live drumming from Rob Bourdon and guitar licks from Brad Delson. Otherwise, One More Light is mostly concerned with triumphant anthems ("Battle Symphony" and "Invisible") and heartfelt confessions ("Sorry for Now" and "Halfway Right") that end up sounding like the Chainsmokers blended with Twenty One Pilots. Certainly, One More Light will find its defenders, but for fans of their past work, "Good Goodbye" with rappers Pusha T and Stormzy is the closest they come to "aggressive" and "inspired" (even if Shinoda sounds like G-Eazy). Oddly enough, the Kiiara-assisted lead single "Heavy" ends up being one of the only memorable earworms on the album, an undeniably catchy dose of radio-friendly pop that dares listeners to sing along. Here, Linkin Park actually lay out the entire plot of this endeavor by asking "Why is everything so heavy?" With the bandmembers all hovering around their forties, they've matured and fully expect fans to do the same, taking huge steps away from the nü metal that established them in the early 2000s. Objectively, that attitude is refreshing, but nonetheless a letdown. From their inception, Linkin Park connected through catharsis. However, many of the emotions presented here are fleeting. The issue isn't that it's a pop effort; indeed, they get points for a brave attempt so outside of their wheelhouse. The problem is that much of One More Light is devoid of that visceral charge that previously defined much of their catalog. It's a provocative challenge that ultimately fails to satisfy.
One More Light Review
by Neil Z. Yeung