Linkin Park Meteora
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You know who Linkin Park are. Even the Amish have heard a car driving by blaring One Step Closer or In The End. If you're determined to hate them, stop reading now. If you're willing to keep an open mind, read on. Linkin Park are BIG. They're corporate now. They're on MTV. They have fifteen year old girls holding up signs and screaming their names. They are pretty. Does this mean they don't make decent music? Not necessarily.

Meteora is Linkin Park's latest release, and some say it's the true sequel to their debut album, not counting 2002's "re-imagining" of their first album. At less than forty minutes it's a little short, but that just reflects the concentrated quality of the thirteen tracks (most are four minutes long or less). Additionally, it's an enhanced cd with added web content and comes with a really nice package design and booklet for those of you who appreciate that.

For those of you living with the Amish who might not have heard a Linkin Park album in full, their style ranges from hip-hop to metal to electronica to rock. They have a singer and a rapper; a bassist, guitarist, and drummer; and a DJ. This fusion of various elements of music has brought them a lot of fans, and is enriched further on Meteora with the addition of several string arrangements. Their lyrics tend to be emotional, exposing the fears and desires of the singer. There is no swearing and the lyrics are purposely non-specific, allowing anyone (including kids) to identify with the songs, as they express feelings we've all had at one time or another.

The album intros into Don't Stay, a hard rocking anthem with a sprinkling of scratching and layered beats to make it just a little hipper than the other rock songs on the radio. Then there's the hit Somewhere I Belong. This is a pretty typical LP song to judge if you like them or not. The mc raps out some of the vocals during the calmer parts of the song, and the singer belts out other parts when the music rocks out, or during a chorus. It's a little formulaic, but it's very compelling, and even the most jaded listener will find it hard to keep his head from nodding to the beat by the end of the song. Then there's the new radio hit Faint. This track really showcases the band's main growth over the past few years, which is the tightness of their rapper's vocals. This is a fast-paced song, infectious from the opening string samples to the screaming chorus "I WON'T BE IGNORED!!" The whole thing is held together by the impeccable rhythm and rhyme of their mc. My roommate really dislikes Linkin Park, and he can't stop listening to this song. Other standout tracks include the softer crooning of Breaking The Habit, the ominous hip-hop warning Nobody's Listening which is centered around a Japanese flute loop, and the DJ showcase Session. Really, though, every track on here is great for anyone who's a fan of previous Linkin Park efforts.

So the final verdict on the album: give it a chance. I've been a LP fan since way back, and the whole "selling out" angle doesn't bother me. Everyone wants success to some degree, and LP has only used it to help other artists get attention, and to continue to experiment with their own style. There's a little more variety on this album than past efforts, and that might make them more accessible to new fans, but there's plenty on here for old fans to love. Even if you generally don't like Linkin Park, give Meteora a listen - you might be surprised.

- - Jeff Light

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