As a follow-up to ”Hybrid Theory,” the album that somehow outsold all others last year, rap-metal darlings Linkin Park have released…”Hybrid Theory.” Actually, it’s called Reanimation, and it comprises remixes of every song from the preceding album (along with a few extra cuts and between-track filler). A statement accompanying the disc describes it as ”an experiment in sonic fusion which defies the creative borders imposed by today’s commercial culture.” That’s one hypothesis, all right, but why else would Linkin Park redo their last disc instead of offering up a batch of new material? A few theories:
They legitimately long to expand the parameters of their genre.
From the start, rap-metal, rap-rock, mook-rock — whatever one wants to call it — has been one of the most exhausting pop offshoots ever created. Maintaining that level of energy and angst is hard for both musicians and audiences, and the fact that the latest Korn and Papa Roach albums aren’t repeating the commercial success of their predecessors — and that Fred Durst will soon start directing his first feature film — is the first sign that rap-rock may have worn out its welcome. In fact, we’re all a little worn out from it.
Perhaps Linkin Park realized this shift, since ”Reanimation” is a hostile rap takeover of ”Hybrid Theory” rather than a modest recasting of its songs. The drums, vocals, and bludgeoning air-blast guitars of the original recordings are thrown out and replaced by hip-hop minimalism — rumbling pianos, scratchy beats, air-raid-siren effects, and newly recorded raps by lesser-known rhymers like Pharoahe Monch and Rasco. In a few cases, such as the nearly techno-style overhauls of ”Rnw@y” (called ”Runaway” on the last album) and ”My <Dsmbr'' (a.k.a. ''My December'' from last year's ''Frat Party at the Pancake Festival'' DVD), the remixes are more sonically expansive than the original recordings; the various underground producers make Linkin Park sound like experimental DJs. Other tracks, like ''Pts.of.Athrty'' (''Points of Authority''), redone by Orgy's Jay Gordon, aren't that radically different and seem pointless.
On the one hand, the results are more varied than the monochromatic ”Hybrid Theory.” On the other hand, the remixes at times obliterate one of the band’s most distinctive characteristics — the vocal interplay between singer Chester Bennington and MC Mike Shinoda, a blend that allows their pop tendencies to poke through from time to time.
Simple Y2K nostalgia.
In these shaky times, wouldn’t it be nice to think back to a year in which the New York skyline was untouched, the economy was one huge herd of bulls, and the most pressing concern was which presidential candidate actually won the election? In retrospect, the period between late 2000 (when ”Hybrid Theory” was released) and the summer of 2001 (when the album peaked) wasn’t so bad after all, and ”Reanimation” returns you to that place!
They wanted an excuse to hang with their friends.
”Reanimation” is something of a rap-metal slumber party. Korn’s Jonathan Davis drops a new lead vocal onto ”1 Stp Klosr” (i.e., ”One Step Closer”), not adding much other than a more nasal voice, and Staind’s Aaron Lewis grouses through a new take on ”Krwlng” (”Crawling”), which is transformed by Shinoda into a string-driven Goth ballad.
Their label needs hits. Bad.
Warner Bros., Linkin Park’s home, has had more than a few mediocre years, having missed out completely on the recent pop and hip-hop booms. So why let a good thing like ”Hybrid Theory” go to waste? Just rewarm and serve. It’s easy money during uneasy times.
The album is Linkin Park’s way of honoring Paula Abdul and, by association, ”American Idol.”
Abdul, as fans of truly arcane pop product may recall, was an early proponent of the remix album, which has practically become a genre unto itself. Moby, New Kids on the Block, and Madonna, among many, have all released such discs; Mary J. Blige is up next. Abdul’s 1990 remix project, ”Shut Up and Dance,” was among the most brazen, since she, like Linkin Park, had released only one album up to that point. So perhaps ”Reanimation” is Linkin Park’s way of both paying homage to a true pioneer of the field and finding a clever way to lure some of those millions of ”American Idol” watchers to the Linkin Park bins.
They just want the summer off.
Who can blame them? If I could fill this space with an article from last year and get away with it, I’d do it too.