by Phil Akin
Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda has released an EP under his own name, called Post Traumatic EP. The title comes from the aftermath of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington’s suicide last July. This was a way for Shinoda to cope with his loss, and all three songs on the EP deal with the death of Bennington. All three tracks are basic songs, not meant to be anything more than a way for Shinoda to chronicle his grief. The instrumentals are not supposed to be the focus of this EP. Instead, the lyrics pick up the slack and more than make up for the somewhat subpar backing tracks. That’s not to say that the songs are bad, quite the opposite. It’s just that Shinoda’s lyrics are the focus first and foremost. The songs are reminiscent of Shinoda’s other project, Fort Minor. However, Shinoda has made clear that “this is not Linkin Park, nor is it Fort Minor – it’s just me”.
Place to Start
The first song, “Place to Start,” is the shortest of the three, lasting just longer than two minutes. It was recorded during the original recording of Linkin Park’s album One More Light with Linkin Park’s drummer, Rob Bourdon, supplying percussion. It was finalized for this release. Shinoda talks about how he “doesn’t have a leg to stand on” and asks if he “can put the past behind [him].” Mike is dealing heavily with the loss of Bennington and doesn’t know where to go. He goes on to say how he’s tired of losing control of the situation, feeling hopeless, and being scared. The latter is a reference to losing Linkin Park. This song is meant to display Shinoda’s thoughts since the death of Bennington.
“Over Again” is primarily about the concert Linkin Park played in honor of Bennington, called Celebrate Life, as well as dealing with the band’s future. The first verse is entirely about Celebrate Life, and mentions Bennington without saying his name. To avoid quoting the entire verse, Shinoda talks about how they had no idea what to do after Bennington died, and someone suggested playing a show in his honor. He mentions how they weren’t worried about playing the songs, but that he wasn’t sure if they could actually perform without breaking down. Shinoda even states in the second verse that he “almost lost it in the middle of a couple songs.” Again in the second verse, Shinoda becomes passive aggressive toward people saying stuff like “wow, must be really hard to figure what to do now,” basically saying “you don’t say? It’s not much, just my entire life’s working hanging in the balance.”
The chorus of this song is pretty much the same eight or nine words repeated, well, over and over again. Normally to me that would come across as lazy writing, but it makes sense in the context of this song. The chorus is “sometimes you don’t say goodbye once, you say goodbye over and over again.” This is meant to show that just about everything reminds him of his loss, and how he’s constantly saying goodbye time and time again. If “Place to Start” is about all of Shinoda’s thoughts and emotions, then “Over Again” is meant to take place in the moment of the Celebrate Life concert.
Watching as I Fall
The final song, “Watching as I Fall,” is probably the best song on this album, and the one I’ve listened to the most. The most passive aggressive and self-aware song, Shinoda is again dealing with Bennington’s death, but this time focusing on himself as a public figure. The first verse has the lines “thinking I’m okay, but they’re saying otherwise / tell me how I look but can’t look me in the eyes.” Everyone is quick to point out how hard this must be for Shinoda, but no one has the gall to actually look him in the eyes and mean it. The pre-chorus states how he should be more grateful to be around when it all came apart. Basically, saying how he should be thankful he’s the one going through this, instead of Bennington losing Shinoda. He is also saying he should be grateful he had this opportunity in the first place, despite his career coming to a sudden halt. In the second verse, Shinoda is well aware of how he appears to people in public, saying “honestly I buy that I can sound cold.” He’s probably tired of people constantly saying how sorry they are and just wants them to stop, but he acknowledges that he can come across as crass.
From an outsider’s perspective
I’ll be honest, as a die hard Linkin Park fan (that includes Fort Minor, Mike Shinoda, Dead by Sunrise, Stone Temple Pilots, etc) Post Traumatic EP can come across as pretty bland from an outsider’s perspective. This EP was made as something of a closure to fans and to Shinoda himself. “Place to Start” and “Over Again” are slower songs, with instrumentals that sound similar to Linkin Park’s One More Light, and honestly there isn’t much to talk about apart from the lyrics. “Watching as I Fall” is a faster song, and one that can stand on its own the most compared to the other two, but again the focus is on the lyrics first and foremost, so the everything else takes a backseat. Each song is good in its own right, but you won’t hear them played on the radio and probably never live either. If you aren’t a fan of Linkin Park, then I suggest listening to “Watching as I Fall” and maybe “Place to Start.”
Shinoda has stated he plans to continue with Linkin Park, but even he doesn’t know what that means. Will they continue as a five-man group? Will they bring on a new vocalist? No one, not even Shinoda is sure about what will happen. But in the meantime, we’ve got this EP to tide us over until more news comes out.
Featured Image from RapWave
Post Traumatic EP
Post Traumatic is not a bad EP for what it is. It isn’t supposed to be some debut record, nor is it supposed to be the start of a new brand. Its only purpose is to try and give Shinoda, as well as the fans, some form of closure. While instrumentally it can be lacking in the beginning, lyrically it’s outstanding and doesn’t hold back from being honest and personal.