No critic has real knowledge of the motivations of any A-list band, but most times you’re good if you follow the money. The Rolling Stones had their disco period, Hall & Oates pretended to like ’50s music during the New Wave, stuff like that, and here, in a massive shift in paradigm similar to when Microsoft suddenly discovered there was an internet, Linkin Park goes electro on our ass. Haters want to make the release-date a national holiday and a full armored division of metal weenies is bemoaning the lack of any “Breaking the Habit” speed-wank on this album. But keep in mind that this isn’t Papa Roach or any other bunch of nu-metal dummies (who will all be following suit in 3… 2… 1…) we’re talking about, it’s Linkin Park, the slick, logo-flaunting McRebels whose protectionism makes Lars Ulrich look like a Grateful Dead all-you-can-bootleg Socialist (I have stories but no room). The music isn’t complicated, but it’ll be giving the skip-button finger of anyone, and I mean anyone, who buys the CD a workout. A ping-pong match between Dashboard Confessional wimp-emo and rap-infused electro-industrial refereed by Eminem after a Shakira binge, it offers two opposing environments: one minute you’re holding your new girlfriend and hoping she doesn’t mind your working her bra-clasp (“Waiting For the End”), the next you’re getting absolutely flattened by Chester hanging some black-metal Exorcist-yowls over a pneumatic drill-press beat reminiscent of Skinny Puppy’s “Assimilate” (“Blackout”). The understated but energetic “Robot Boy” is the glue holding this all together, but looking at the demographic I doubt fans will make the connection until too late, when these guys are maybe doing a Dashboard-centric act in Vegas.
B —Eric W. Saeger