love, blood, life
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Hell For Certain, Kentucky
Local Time: 10:20 AM
I wrote a review of the album in my LiveJournal, and thought it would be a good idea to crosspost it here:
Song by song review:
The first track "Wake" is instrumental, and the liner notes say they chose the title based on its double meaning. It starts out all scratchy and staticky, like you've just put on a vinyl record. Clever And then it's all ambient and cold little piano notes. It sounds like winter, and it's a little dark. It begins to build and build, with some rolling drums, and then the kickdrum begins beating in, and it explodes as the guitar slams in, that goes on for a bit before petering out at the end of the track.
Track two is one of my favourite tracks (if not my favourite, fullstop) on the album. "Given Up" starts out with a beat comprised of keys jingling and handclaps, before this repetitive punkrock guitar joins in, and then the rest of the music comes in. Chester comes in with these great angsty lyrics, and he sounds so pissed off As much as I kept talking about the band finally growing up, my favourite tracks seem to be the angstiest ones. Maybe I just like hearing Chester scream, mmm.
Now, I was actually surprised when I found out that the album has a parental advisory sticker on it. Linkin Park have actually commented before on how it takes more talent to convey anger and other emotions in lyrics without swearing, but I guess they changed their mind, what with "Tell me what the fuck is wrong with me!" at the end of the chorus in this song, as well as "Put me out of my fucking misery!" in the bridge. Oh the angst <3
I should also mention the little musical break just before the bridge where all you hear are the keys jingling and the fantastic bass (even if Linkin Park's bassplayer scares me because he looks like he'd be a serial killer). Anyhow, the song continues on and then ends slightly abruptly with the end of the last repetition of the chorus, the actual last thing you hear on the track is Chester, as the music breaks off a second or so before he finishes his last "meeee!"
Okay, "Leave Out All the Rest" is my least favourite album. After all the rocking and screaming of "Given Up", this song is just a big letdown. It starts with a sort of chimey beat, some synth strings, and a subdued drum beat. The lyrics are a little cheesy, and you know what it sounds like? The Backstreet Boys. Ugh. I'm trying to like it, I swear. I'm trying to ignore the lyrics and write about the music, but all I can think about is that it sounds like it should be played at a junior prom. It's actually better during the chorus, as it picks up with some guitar, but I still don't like the song on the whole. The end is alright. I like the simple strings, and Chester's "I can't be who you are"
Now technically the real beginning of "Bleed it Out" is on the end of the previous track. "Bleed it Out" is described in the liner notes as being the most fun song they recorded, and the track sounds like someone just snuck into the studio and recorded them jamming. The first thing you hear (at the end of the previous track) is footsteps and the muffled sounds of conversation, and then you 'enter' the room they're in and the converation gets clear enough to understand, with Chester saying "all driving with their hands out the window", and then theres a tambourine jingling, some papers shuffling and then the guitar comes in on top of the talking.
And the guitar sounds U2-ey. Early U2-ey. Okay, it sounds just like the beginning of I Will Follow. And underneath it, the background noise continues, with added cheers and shouts of "whoohooo!" as Mike slips into his rap. One of only two songs on the album that he gets to rap on And there's more of the F word here, "going out of my fucking mind" which is amusingly followed by filthy mouth, no excuse" As the song builds up, handclaps and a tambourine are added, followed by the bass. The lyrics themselves are really repetitive, but it doesn't really matter here. It's a fun song, a jam, and it's one of my favourites on the album.
The chorus is catchy though, and the drums don't join the song until after the first chorus. But I must say that "doesn't matter how hard I try" in the second verse gave me "In The End" flashbacks Also, I can't be sure, but I think the other voices in the background (presumably the rest of the band, as they're all credited with backing vocals) are singing along to the chorus.
The lyrics in the bridge reminds me of Faint, "I've opened up these scars! I'll make you face this! I pulled myself so far! I'll make you face this now!" And toward the end of the song, the catchy repetitive guitar is replaced by a short solo, before the it all ends in laughter and applause. A very fun song, U2 need to do songs like that
"Shadow of the Day" sounds just like With or Without You! (Although the first time I heard it, the very beginning reminded me of the very beginning of A Sort of Homecoming) Everything is so similar, the beat, the bass, the lyric structure (particularly the chorus: "And the shadow of the day, will embrace the world in grey, and the sun will set for you") and the way the music picks up and the (real) drums enter after the first chorus. But Shadow of the Day has one thing With or Without You doesn't have, a beautiful string section. It does, however, have an extremely Edgey guitar solo in the bridge. The last 40 seconds of the track are a quiet synthy breakdown, which segues into the next track.
First single! What am I supposed to say about "What I've Done"? It's already been all over the radio for over a month But yeah, it starts out with this Exorcist-style piano intro, before the music crashes in with a bang. The song was the last one written for the album, and they chose it as the first single, because they felt it was a good representation of their reinvention, what with the lyrics seeming to basically say "look, I know I screwed up and I did some bad stuff, but that's the past and I'm moving forward to a better future". I like that sentiment. Particularly the bridge: "For what I've done, I start again, and whatever pain may come, today this ends, I'm forgiving what I've done"
Now "Hands Held High" here Linkin Park shows their political side for the first time, and they did it in a rather nice way. This song is completely Mike's, it's almost all rap, and the lyrics are really, really good. The song starts out with a slow organ, before some early-Larry Mullen-style military drumming kicks in, and then Mike's passionate delivery of his feelings regarding the war in Iraq, with lines like: "Like this war's really just a different brand of war, like it doesn't cater to rich and abandon poor" and "for a leader so nervous in an obvious way, stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay, and the rest of the world watching at the end of the day, in the living room laughing like 'what did he say?'"
And I haven't mentioned the music, but it's actually really pretty, piano, organ, and guitar, with that military drumming. After the first verse (which is really long) ends, the drums drop out long enough for a simple chorus of "amen" repeated several times. Amen in a Linkin Park song, who'd have thought. The second verse has just as excellent lyrics: "it's ironic, at times like this you pray, but a bomb blew the mosque up yesterday" and "when the rich wage war, it's the poor the poor who die" Afterward, there's another "amen" chorus, which is repeated underneath a sung verse of "With hands held high into a sky so blue, as the ocean opens up to swallow you"
"No More Sorrow" continues the Bush bashing, although in a less obvious way. It starts out with this weird melodic noise. I don't think it's a guitar, some synth thing that Joe did, I guess, and then this heavy shredding guitar kicks in with the drums beating in sync and it's amazing. The intro is actually really long (over a minute) before Chester comes in, and he's angry again, with lyrics like these: "Your crusade's a disguise, replace freedom for fear, you trade money for lies" and "I see pain, I see need, I see liars and theives abuse power with greed" and a chorus of: "No, no more sorrow, I've paid for your mistakes, your time is borrowed, your time has come to be replaced". And this great chorus of "Theives and hypocrites!" screamed a few times.
"Valentines Day" is another one of the songs on the album that hasn't really clicked with me yet. It has a nice guitar melody, a nice drumbeat, and a particularly nice bassline. The lyrics are a little bit emoey, and I've only just now realized it must about having your significant other die, what with the line "and the ground below grew colder, as they put you down inside". The song finally picks up a bit toward the end with the build up and then "So now you're gone, and I was wrong, I never knew what it was like... ON A VALENTINE'S DAY! ON A VALENTINE'S DAY!"
With track ten, Mike gets a chance to sing. "In Between". The music in the song is really simple, a sort of clicking rhythm track instead of drums, some somber synth, and a little bit of guitar. It's interesting to hear Mike sing, but honestly, I prefer him rapping. The lyrics are nice enough, but nothing really stands out for me.
"In Pieces" is probably one of those songs I'm gonna start liking more, the more I listen to it. I like the noise in the background, I dunno what it is... it almost sounds like a steel drum. I really like the chorus: "There's truth in your lies, doubt in your faith, what you build you lay to waste, there's truth in your lies, doubt in your faith, all I've got's what you didn't take" although the melody reminds me of some previous Linkin Park song, I'm just not sure what.
The song begins to pick up a bit after that, but I don't really like the guitar after it does. It sounds really 80ish, and not in a good way. It has a touch of a reggae touch to it too. There's a really 80ish shredding guitar solo toward the end of the song too, which is nice in a strange way too.
"The Little Things Give You Away" is the Hurricane Katrina song on the album. The band wrote it after visiting New Orleans sometime in the aftermath. The music is really subdued through the first part of the song, just an acoustic guitar over a strange little rhythm track. The lyrics are clearly disapproving of the government's handling of the situation: "Don't wanna reach for me, do you? I mean nothing to you. The little things give you away. And there will be no mistaking, the levees are breaking. All you've ever wanted, was someone to truly look up to you, and six feet under water, I do."
By the second chorus, the song picks up, with the electric guitar falling in, and then the rest of the band joins in. Afterward, the song goes into a little bit of a jam, with a long, guitar-driven musical break, before Chester comes back in with some Bono-style "Ooooooh!"s and Mike singing the song's title, over and over again, as another chorus comes in on top of it. The song continues into the outro, until the music drops out entirely, and the three vocal tracks (two Chester, one Mike) layer beautifully until the song ends, at a whopping 6:23, which makes it about twice as long as the typical Linkin Park song.
Review of the album as a whole:
Overall, I like it. I had mixed feelings about buying the album. Because I had basically gotten over Linkin Park. I grew out of them. "What I've Done" and their apparent newfound maturity excited me though, and I hoped I would be pleasantly surprised when I got the album.
And I was. But at the same time, some of the tracks gave me a big WTF. "Leave Out All The Rest" for example, it just seemed SO un-Linkin Park! It was so soft and so strange! And it sounded like The Backstreet Boys, wtf. "Shadow of the Day" was also surprising. Because it sounded like U2 Whoa, worlds colliding!
My main annoyance with the album is its inconsistancies. Some of the songs are hard and fast and angry and screamy and hardrocking, and others are incredibly soft, and way too pop. It disturbed me a little. I prefer the harder ones, honestly. I'm not a fan of softer music in general (I don't know how the fuck I became a U2 fan... oh yeah wait, they USED to know how to rock )
One other surprise with the album is that they'd gotten political, and not just political for the sake of selling records *coughGreenDaycough*, but were actually writing with genuine passion about what's going on in the world (the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina), and it works perfectly (especially in "Hands Held High")
Overall, I'm pleased with the album, and I've pleased with the way they've changed their sound. I think it can only get better for them from here
......I am more longwinded than Bono