Musicians Dave "Phoenix" Farrell, left, and Mike Shinoda of Linkin...

Musicians Dave "Phoenix" Farrell, left, and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park perform at the Staples Center. (March 4, 2008) Credit: Getty Images

Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda says the band's new "A Thousand Suns" (Machine Shop / Warner Bros.) is influenced by Public Enemy, and it shows.

Sure, there are the obvious links - the twisting of PE's "Bring the Noise," lyrically and musically, into "Wretches and Kings," as well as the name-checking of Chuck D in "When They Come for Me" and parts of Rick Rubin's production. But it goes deeper than that.

Like Public Enemy, Linkin Park is trying to use popular music to get their message across. They are trying to make the most of their multiplatinum pulpit while still growing as artists. It's a tall order, and Shinoda, Chester Bennington and the boys come up short at times.

But it works on the current rock smash "The Catalyst," the hard-charging chant of the downtrodden that has shifted the sound of rock radio and subtly injected Rage Against the Machine politics into a more easily digestible shout-along.

"Iridescent" takes it a step further, invading the pop territory of OneRepublic and The Fray with an irresistible ode to esteem-building and hope, culminating in chiming guitars and a gang vocal of "Remember all the sadness and frustration and let it go."

"A Thousand Suns" is the middle ground between Linkin Park's more raucous, raw beginnings and the polished, pretty "Minutes to Midnight" ballads, and they walk it well - balancing hip-hop, pop gloss, workers' rights rallies, Martin Luther King speeches and, of course, Bennington's screams.

Linkin Park


"A Thousand Suns"




The revolution will be radio-friendly

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