Linkin Park has been the butt of many jokes, and Minutes to Midnight isn’t getting the band out of that ditch. The 43-minute album features maybe five minutes of music worth listening to. With their new logo and silhouetted, desolate album cover, the Park boys are clearly trying to redefine their image.
It worked. They redefined; they scrapped most of Mike Shinoda’s rap; and they bumped up their emotion to a breaking point of noise and what they expect us to buy as sincerity. To be honest, I’d like to, but it’s hard with lyrics like “My insides all turn to ash, so slow/ And blow away as I collapse, so cold.”
The boys of Linkin Park have entered a new realm of maturity wherein they take themselves quite seriously beneath their newfound mellower sound, but it just doesn’t click. Their biggest fallacy on Midnight is their assumption that by slowing down their tempos and sounding heavier, perhaps even more disturbed, their lyrics have more meaning. This is not the case. Leading screamer Chester Bennington can cry “Put me out of my misery” as many times as he likes on what would otherwise be a decent track (“Given Up”), but it’s somehow unconvincing.
“I've given up ... / I'm sick of feeling/ Is there nothing you can say?/ Take this all away/ I'm suffocating/ Tell me what the fuck is/ Wrong with me!/ GOD!”
Chester, buddy … you’re 31 years old, and quite rich. Come on.
The album’s high mark comes from Shinoda’s rapping on a scarce two tracks, making his rapper self seem more like a special guest than a member of the band. “Bleed It Out” is an undeniably fun song, with an upbeat rhythm and active blend of rap and screamo. The only other track worth the time is “Hands Held High,” the other Shinoda-rap track (coincidence?). It starts off promising, with angry, politically charged lyrics and inspirational drumming in the background, but it ends up droning on without much of a punch by the end.
Midnight, while not a complete failure, is a testament to the time restrictions that Linkin Park has placed upon itself. The guys’ newer electronic sound is dated even by conventional standards and their lyrics are nothing to write home about. So many years ago they could at least convince adolescent boys, but now we’ve got to ask: Just who are they talking to?