The mind-numbing melodic pacing and extremely ugly synthetic textures summed up a disastrous attempt to sound fun and market friendly.
This was a miserable failure at trying to write attractive music. In attempting to be catchy and fun, these melodies were downright distasteful in their ludicrous pacing and tiny, desolate phrases. These musicians truly showed their incompetence with creating impactful lines; not one song had any decent energy or motives to captivate anyone beyond the dull fabrication of the music. There were a couple of spots that crawled out of the dark cave of lameness: “Battle Symphony” had a respectable shape to its chorus, “Heavy” had nice uses of register, and “Sharp Edges” was the only song to have a consistently bearable melodic pace. Across the board, nothing else broke away from being disengaging and flat. I was especially disappointed at the lackluster title song, “One More Light”. At least the melodies throughout the work had some sort of sanity and cohesion within their different components. In other words, no one aspect of the melody ever seemed extremely out of place. Instead, everything worked together to produce something that consistently sucked.
Surprisingly, the harmony was not what hindered this album the most. Its uninspiring obviousness certainly didn’t help, though. The harmonic language here was quite terrible. We’ve gotten to a point in the music world, even in mainstream pop, where using the same iterations of I, vi, IV, and V is rather humiliating. Linkin Park is either very late to the game and tried to make some easy money by being lazy, or they simply left any talent they had at the door when they wrote these songs. In most every song, there were sections that carried a very obvious and unoriginal four chord progression, and without any practical rhythm or movement, these became black holes that essentially destroyed the music. Songs like “Battle Symphony”, “Invisible”, and “Sorry For Now” certainly fell victim to this. Some places in the music fought off the black holes with strong landings on important chords or detached lines that added life to the structure, but only two songs, “Heavy” and “Sharp Edges”, had this on a respectably consistent basis. It was better than what the worst musicians of the business are doing today, but they aren’t too far off from that comparison with this dud in creativity.
This sound was rather infuriating and awful. If this was meant to be a work of ambition (which should never come into question in the first place), then this was a completely failed experiment that caused more detriments than it should have. If this was really just an afterthought project that they didn’t really care about, then that actually explains a lot, but then the obvious attempt to sound fun is enjoyable presents quite a conflict. In any case, since I’m not interested in explicitly critiquing objective here, many of these textures were awkwardly bad and incompatible with the music. You can’t get much worse than these terrible synthetic additions that dropped like bombs (in a bad way) on the track and disrupted any sense of flow. Bad combinations of tessituras between voice and electronic instruments were everywhere. The sound was much more tolerable when synthetic sound was completely taken out, but sadly that didn’t happen often enough. The first song, “Nobody Can Save Me”, set an awful tone that the album could never quite escape. Not to mention the lyrics being akin to a Show and Tell poem written by someone in middle school. Even with the potentially saving grace of the piano and different singers that could change up the texture, there was nothing to really save this from being a repulsive experience. Timbrally, this is the worst album that has passed through my ears all year.
As with many attempts at mainstream pop, this work would mean nothing if not for the name attached to it. Many may gravitate towards this album due to the obvious and rather interesting change in musical goals that Linkin Park gives from their other work. They’ve had a rather stellar career popularity-wise, and their place in the commercial world means this album will get attention by default. It has absolutely no musical traction, though. Their name barely saves this album from completely belonging in the trash yet, but this score is sure to drop soon, as to will this album in the metaphorical junkyard.
Final Score: 61/180