People change. Thank goodness for that. If they didn’t I’d still be wearing purple corduroy flares, obsessively listening to Fun Lovin’ Criminals and collecting crystals in a small plastic tub for undisclosed teen magic purposes. So why is it that when a band decides to shake off the shackles of the past they get in so much sh*t for it? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Linkin Park, who, on their recently released seventh album ‘One More Light’, decided to ditch the screaming and nu-metal misery and in its place give us Justin Bieber and Chainsmokers-esque Urban Outfitters pop pizzazz.
The fans, to put it mildly, were not best pleased. “This is total trash. I wanted to give it a chance, but sorry you crapped out a 10-track pile of nothing. Don’t do it again,” moaned one on Facebook. “You disappointed me for the last time LP. The whole thing is just massive snore fest. Slow, boring pop,’’ sobbed another.
Now, Linkin Park are big enough and ugly enough to not need me to come to their rescue – in fact, frontman Chester Bennington has rather ungallantly offered to “punch… in the f**king mouth” anyone who calls them sellouts – but I’m all for musicians pulling a serious sonic volte-face. Imagine if Fleetwood Mac hadn’t blossomed from a noodly British blues band to a grown-up pop megaforce; if the Beastie Boys hadn’t ditched their hardcore punk roots and become a rap powerhouse; or if Radiohead never shifted from glum little indie band to electronic experimenters? No ‘Rumours’ or ‘Ill Communication’ or ‘Kid A’, that’s what.
We’re not for a minute suggesting that Linkin Park were trying to release a decade- defining album – in fact, it’s more than likely that it’s simply a cynical ploy to sell more records in a world that now prizes a tropical-house jangle over a scratched guitar riff – but would you rather Linkin Park forced out yet another weak facsimile of ‘Hybrid Theory’? Not I. Fellow former cohorts in heaviness Paramore have followed the same path with their latest album too, the irrepressibly perky ‘After Laughter’, which comes over more like Taylor Swift than My Chemical Romance, while Miley Cyrus has suddenly started releasing tracks that sound like Auto-Tuned Mumford & Sons.
I know it’s sometimes hard to believe – especially when you look at their pool party in Ibiza/stage-side at Coachella/top table at Chiltern Firehouse Instagram pics – but musicians are people too. They should be allowed to experiment, allowed to f**k up and allowed to move the hell on. So here’s to Linkin Park’s next album; a psych-folk concept record about pizza.