A rap-rock outfit with a jones for Depeche Mode? Is this a glitch in the matrix? Linkin Park's debut album, Hybrid Theory, is a freaky-deaky fusion that works in spots — on "Crawling," MC Mike Shinoda's catchy rhymed refrains bounce off singer Chester Bennington's New Wave croon, proving that synth-pop can get with the hip-hop. This Southern California five-piece knows its way around a hook: Crashing, loud-soft dynamics run through the album, and producer Don Gilmore (who has worked with Eve 6, Lit, Pearl Jam) gives the guitars and samples a raw-meat heft that will sound right at home on modern-rock radio. Maybe too at home — Bennington and Shinoda often slip into corny, boilerplate-aggro lyrics: Thanks to "voices in the back of my head" ("Papercut"), they're "one step closer to the edge" ("One Step Closer"), suffering "wounds [that] will not heal" while the "walls are closing in" ("Crawling"). As a result, Linkin Park too frequently come off like another Hybrid song, "Papercut": They can slice and dice, but just not deep enough.
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