Dubstep Remixes Fail To Energize Linkin Park Songs On 'Recharged'
Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 22:10
One of the most commercially successful rock bands of its generation, Linkin Park returns just a year after its gold-certified Living Things. This go round, Linkin Park unveils Recharged, a series of remixes, or “reinterpretations” as the band terms them, to songs originally featured in Living Things. By “reinterpretation,” the band seemingly means swapping guitars for dubstep, because unfortunately, that’s all that really goes on here.
Linkin Park has made a career toeing the line between rock and rap. Its debut album, Hybrid Theory, was an impressive, imaginative tour de force of rock music and happens to also be one of the most commercially successful debut albums of all time. Linkin Park’s 2004 collaborative EP with Jay Z, Collision Course, showed a band truly stretching its imagination. Those hoping for a Collision Course-like set of remixes here will be sorely disappointed, and not only because of the absence of Jay Z. In Collision Course the band actually brought new material to the table, along with Jay Z, who gave a different, reimagined meaning to old Linkin Park tracks.
Recharged simply doesn’t work. Flipping the band’s blend of rock and hip-hop for pure dubstep does not lend any new meaning here, unless the meaning we’re to glean is that Linkin Park is fresh out of inspiration. Linkin Park has remained successful over the years not because it has retained the same sound over 13 years, but because it has slowly, carefully implemented new techniques album after album. The general rhythm and structure of a Linkin Park song has remained the same. Minutes to Midnight, Linkin Park’s third album, has a lighter, less chaotic sound than Hybrid Theory, but songs on both albums follow the same general rhythm—that of tight, careful verses or rapping which build up to a dramatic, some might say screeching, chorus. This same structure is prevalent in Recharged. Aside from “A Light That Never Comes” the album is only a series of remixes, after all. But the sin of Recharged is drowning out this rhythm and structure Linkin Park fans have grown accustomed to with a smattering of ho-hum dubstep. Dubstep itself is not a sin when used imaginatively. The problem with Recharged is that dubstep and imagination do not implicitly go hand in hand.
Recharged is not a total mess. Pusha T’s short appearance in “I’ll Be Gone” is an easy highlight. Pusha T raps that “dope keep calling / asking me what’s my legacy / I just want to die balling.” Appearing in a Linkin Park song is surely his definition of balling, but sarcasm aside, Pusha T’s tone suggests he’s not having a whole lot of fun. If Pusha T is not having fun on your album, is it a worthy album? Probably not. “Powerless” is really the only remix that works, perhaps only because the original lends itself to dubstep more than the other tracks. “Powerless” feels like a Calvin Harris song, and that’s not a bad place to start for a band trying to edge its way into the dubstep game. The only original on the album, “A Light That Never Comes,” is an indication of where Linkin Park has decided to go. Clocking in at just under four minutes, it’s one of the shorter tracks on the album. Like most Linkin Park tracks, it flips between measured verses and a reverberating chorus, but dubstep actually works here, because the track was seemingly conceived and produced with dubstep in mind. The song takes the casual Linkin Park listener to territory that’s a bit unsettling at first, but makes sense for a band always testing out new forms.
While it misses the mark, Recharged is only a chapter in the continuous evolution of Linkin Park. Fans of dubstep won’t love this album. Fans of Linkin Park won’t love this album. But Linkin Park will be back next time, with yet another tool in its stylistic belt.