A diary of grief that ends in hope – that’s the best way to explain ‘Post Traumatic’, the debut album from Mike Shinoda. Released nearly a year after the passing of Chester Bennington, his bandmate in Linkin Park, the album touches on multiple emotions surrounding the aftermath of his tragic passing, ranging from fear, loss, insecurity, and rebuilding confidence.
Whilst most records that deal with grief take either a sombre or aggressive tone, Shinoda keeps his ear for melody and unmistakable production style throughout. Sub bass notes signal the beginning of ‘Place To Start’, a track that relies on modulating keys and Shinoda‘s lyrics to drive it. Reaching its crescendo, it peels away its layers, ending on voicemail messages surrounding the aforementioned events.
As the album progresses, you can feel Shinoda‘s vulnerability begin to fade, and confidence seeps in not only in his lyrics and delivery, but also in the tracks themselves. ‘About You’ showcases not only Shinoda‘s skills as a producer, but also as a rapper. Dictated by his flow, it shuffles between trap beats, West Coast touches, and stuttered breaks within a matter of minutes.
Shinoda also stretches his singing on tracks such as ‘Promises I Can’t Keep’; starting with a tentative piano melody and sparse drum patterns, the vocals rise and fall hypnotically. The pared down verse becomes a sharp contrast to the explosive chorus, filled with countermelodies, sharp hi-hats, and distorted bass lines.
With the album being primarily created by Shinoda himself, ‘Lift Off’ explores the use of guest vocalists with Chino Moreno (Deftones) and Machine Gun Kelly, creating some new avenues in the process, blending dream pop and minimalist hip-hop with impressive results.
Ending on ‘Can’t Hear You Now’, strong hooks circle around the track, jumping in and out at a moment’s notice. The confidence in Shinoda‘s delivery is apparent, with lone vocals taking place alongside changing melodic motifs.
Faced with dealing with the public loss of a close friend, Shinoda has laid himself bare, a bold move that not many people can pull the strength to do. Whilst ‘Post Traumatic’ can help one when dealing with loss with its lyrical uplifting of hope, it should also be played by anyone who appreciates well-written and honest music straight from the heart.