Mike Shinoda’s ‘Post Traumatic’ Is A Sad Album Yet Serves As A Catharsis For Linkin Park Fans As Much As For Him

‘Post Traumatic’ by Mike Shinoda, is a sad album. There’s no getting past it. Written in the shadow of the suicide of his friend and Linkin Park bandmate, Chester Bennington, Shinoda uses the deeply personal album as a catharsis to work through his feelings. The 16 track full length album follows on from the EP of the same name, released in January this year.

Opening with the aptly named ‘Place To Start’, released on the EP, we’re given a glimpse inside Shinoda’s state of mind. The track includes phone calls of condolence from friends including US radio personality Ted Stryker, Mark Fiore, Linkin Park’s tour videographer, and Dave Farrell, aka Phoenix, Linkin Park’s bassist. Right from the beginning we know that this is going to be a hard record to listen to.

Place To Start (Official Video) - Mike Shinoda

‘Over Again’, ‘Watching As I Fall’ (both also originally from the EP), and ‘Nothing Makes Sense Anymore’ are a triptych which sees Shinoda trying to understand what’s happened, and how to go on after Bennington’s death. “Sometimes you don’t say goodbye once, you say goodbye over and over and over again”, from ‘Over Again’.

Over Again (Official Video) - Mike Shinoda

The band are talking about what to do, they know they should get back on stage – but it’s only a month since Chester’s death. ‘Watching as I Fall’ opens with the famous line from Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’ as well as ‘How High’ by Method Man; Shinoda in speaking of the track says,

“I grew up on a wide range of music, from Method Man to Jimi Hendrix. This line quotes both at once, it was used in both ‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi, and ‘How High’ by Method Man and Redman.

The surreal nature of what I was going through inspired me to quote the lyric.”

Watching As I Fall (Official Video) - Mike Shinoda

Mike’s world is falling apart…”I’m a shadow in the dark trying to put it back together as I watch it fall apart” (‘Nothing Makes Sense Anymore’). He’s lost, walking in the shadows of life, nothing makes sense anymore.

Nothing Makes Sense Anymore (Official Video) - Mike Shinoda

‘About You’ features man of the moment, blackbear, who not only sings on the track but also co-wrote it with Shinoda. The hip-hop artist has collaborated with Linkin Park in the past, producing their song ‘Sorry For Now’ from the band’s album ‘One More Light’, released 2 months prior to Bennington’s death. It’s not too much of a reach to feel that he’s earned his place on such a moving album.

About You [feat. blackbear] (Official Video) - Mike Shinoda

Speaking to Beats 1 Radio, Mike says of the song,

“I made multiple rap songs and then smashed them together. So if you listen to the track, you’ll hear multiple moods in the track, and then when it hits the–after the second chorus, from there out, it was me, and [blackbear], and a duo named BASECAMP, and we all just kinda cooked up that end section together.

So I’m really proud of it. Part of the thing about the lyrics of the song, which I know [Zane Lowe]’ll appreciate, is–I was writing all these songs and a lot of the early stuff on the album was about what had happened and was about Chester and all that. And then I started trying to write some songs that weren’t about Chester and weren’t about that whole thing, and I realized that people would hear them as if they were about him. And I was like, “Man, even when I try to make a song that’s not about him, it still feels like it’s about him.”

The instrumental, ‘Brooding’, starts off poignant and moving, but picks up the pace and there’s a certian anger to the track. It serves somewhat as a turning point in the album, leading into ‘Promises I Can’t Keep’, where we see Shinoda taking stock of his life and working out what to do and where to go next.

Crossing A Line (Official Video) - Mike Shinoda

‘Crossing A Line’, was the first track from the album released as a single, having its premiere on KROQ FMs Kevin and Bean Show on March 29. Mike has come to the realisation that life isn’t going to be the same, even his career is going to be different. In the light of Chester’s death he’s had to make creative and artistic decisions that were healthy for him, and to make sure that he didn’t go down the same path. The entire album is so revealing about what has been going on in his head.

‘Hold It Together’ is poignant and moving. Trying to pull his life back to some semblance of normality, he’s confronted by people at a six year old’s birthday party, wanting to talk to him about Chester and he feels awkward thereafter, because life goes on and he’s trying act normal…but it’s not normal. It’s too much. He’s “just trying to hold my shit together”. Life is too hard, but he’s got Anna, his wife, by his side, they’re going through this together.

She said “are you okay?”
And I’m staring into space
It’s making her nervous cause one thing is certain
I don’t have my head on straight

‘Ghosts’ addresses the mysteries of life after death; we see things, hear voices, feel déjà vu. As with ‘Hold It Together’, the song is an insight into a conversation between Mike and Anna.

Ghosts (Official Video) - Mike Shinoda

‘Make It Up As I Go’ sees another up and coming artist, K.Flay joining Shinoda on vocals. She also joined Mike on stage at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, when he did an in store premiere on 14 June. It’s a more upbeat track than the rest of those on the album, feels as though there might actually be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Make It Up As I Go (Feat. K.Flay) [Live Debut] - Mike Shinoda - Amoeba Music - Hollywood, CA

‘Lift Off’ features Chino Moreno and Machine Gun Kelly. There’s some nice cultural references: Virgin Galactic and their space race – “My Richard’s too Branson to fuck with you bastards”; “Shades on like Velma, hair long like Shaggy”. Shinoda said of the track,

At various points this year, as I was writing the album, I had to unplug and escape. This song came when I was in one of those moments.

Track 13, ‘I.O.U.’ is a full on hip-hop track, which could as easily have been used by his side project Fort Minor as on this album. To add to this idea, there’s even a shout out to the rap collaborative in the lyrics, ‘Play major, but Minor’s my main Fort’. He’s spent 6 months mourning, he’s trying to rebuild, restock. He’s no longer taking any shit, this is his life.

Running From My Shadow [feat. grandson] (Official Video) - Mike Shinoda

‘Running From My Shadow’ features alt artist Grandson. The track sees Shinoda confronting face on memories from his career. It’s dark, and reflective, sober and grimy, but oftentimes the grit has to rise to the surface before healing can commence.

Penultimate track ‘World’s On Fire’ is a love song to his wife, apologising for how he’s been, letting her know how important she is to him, that he’d not have made it through without her. ‘When I just want to disappear, you’re the one that keeps me here. The world’s on fire, all I need is you.’

Final track on the album, ‘Can’t Hear You Now’ sees Shinoda rhyming again, the strong drum and bass punctuating his flow, then the rhythm of his sung lyrics. He’s pulling his life together, there’s still bad days, but he’s going to make it.

“Some days, it doesn’t take much to bring me down
Some days, I’m struggling for control
Some days, it doesn’t take much to bring me down
But, right now, I’m floating above it all”

He’s going to make it.

‘Post Traumatic’ serves as a catharsis for Shinoda, allowing him to work through the issues he’s held onto since Bennington’s death, as well as things he’s been holding onto from his past. It’s likewise cathartic for Linkin Park fans, and in many ways can serve as a benchmark from where to rebuild.

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com