Linkin Park’s new album is like that straight A student in the fifth grade who awkwardly dropped F bombs around the tough kids to be cool. It was obvious he was doing something he knew nothing about to get recognition, and the result was laughable. Replace “student” with “Musical Artist” and “F Bombs” with “Dubstep” and you have an idea of what to expect here. Recharged is the sound of a bandwagoning band trying to stop their descent into irrelevance. Ironically, diluting their own identity into that of mindless trend-followers has only hastened the plunge.
Recharged has the same big-budget production you would expect from a popular act, but lacks the creativity or charm most people look for in their music. Outside of a catchy opener track everything feels like a filler-filled coast to the credits. “Castle of Glass”, “Lost in the Echo”, and “Until it Breaks” surpass the five minute mark, but spend most of their screen time wandering back and forth over weak instrumental bridges. “Roads Untraveled” is one of many cruise-control dance beats running down easy street. A second rendition of“Until it Breaks” decides to close the album with some emotion, but comes across as ham-fisted and corny in light of everything that comes before it. Worse yet, Mike Shinoda compares himself to Banksy at the end of his third verse. Let that sink in for a moment.
It’s not uncommon for radio-friendly albums to be compilations of overly-safe songs that stick so closely to trends they homogenize like milk, but at least there’s fun to be had in sugary joy rides. Linkin Park’s insistence on faux-rebellious edginess crushes what vibes could have made for an entertaining listen. Bad artistic decisions overshadow quality production at every turn, like when the addictive Drum and Bass inspired percussion on “Victimized” becomes a victim to an earsplittingly-bad hook featuring a frontman screaming the song’s title ad nauseum. It’s hard to take seriously, but Linkin Park demands that you take it seriously. If a band is going to be reactionary and imitate their contemporaries, they should at least try to have some fun while doing it.
By trying to do what everyone else is doing, Linkin Park has turned Recharged into an album that is a jack of all trades and a master of sucking at all of them. Why listen to novices attempting to copy a dubstep sound when there are a plethora of veterans around? Who wants to hear average rap verses and weak choruses when there are more fun and more conscious bars elsewhere? It’s difficult to be charming when you’re a chameleon whose identity is constantly changing to blend in with popularity, and Recharged certainly has the charm of a cold-blooded reptile.
Favorite tracks: A Light that Never Comes
Similar to: Dead by Sunrise, Limp Bizkit, Banksy (apparently)
Reviewed by Danny Baldus