There are few people who know grief like Mike Shinoda does. In these last few months, Mike has faced a world that was falling apart. A truckload of depression and questions inundated him, though one question stood out: "where do I go from here?" Shinoda launched his solo career earlier this year with the incredibly powerful Post Traumatic EP in January, and is continuing ahead on his beaten path. Mike Shinoda takes a big step forward with 'Crossing A Line' and 'Nothing Makes Sense Anymore,' two emotional tracks that see Shinoda start to answer the calls of the demons that haunted him in Post Traumatic.
Mike's been teasing 'Crossing A Line' for some time now, leaving fans excited ever since he took to the Sunset Strip in Hollywood to film a music video with fans. 'Crossing A Line' definitely lived up to its promise, bringing with it some heavy emotions. Starting gently with some crystalline piano before Mike comes in with conviction in his voice: "They'll tell you I don't care anymore, and I hope you'll know thats a lie / 'Cause I have found what I have been waiting for, but to get there means crossing a line." The song features a poppy structure, building slowly as Mike admits that he's doing what he can to move on, but isn't forgetting about the past. 'Crossing A Line' is exactly as the title implies: Mike moving forward passed the boundaries that have confined him since tragedy struck. Just as the song's drive builds as it goes, so does Mike's drive to move ahead.
'Nothing Makes Sense Anymore' is a much more tortured song, filled with metaphors that relate back to how Mike saw the world after Chester Bennington's death. The percussion-less track is led solely by gentle synths and Mike's searching timbre. It's hard to even describe the sound of the song; it feels like a big cross between The Fragile era Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park's 'Nobody Can Save Me' from One More Light (which, looking back on it, almost feels like a precursor to Post Traumatic now), and Mike's live version of 'Cigarettes' from his 2015 Fort Minor shows. The lyrics of 'Nothing Makes Sense Anymore' are simply devastating, the first verse introducing beautiful imagery ("I used to know where the bottom was, somewhere far under the ocean waves... But the ground was cracked open, threw me in the ocean / Cast me out away at sea").
As the gorgeous backing synths come in during the chorus, contrasting Mike's heartbreaking "My inside’s out / my left is right / My upside’s down / my black is white / I hold my breath / and close my eyes / And wait for dawn but there’s no light," a real sense of there being a light that's just out of reach. But with that comes the sentiment of not giving up. Mike sings 'Nothing Makes Sense Anymore' because he knows that light is there and he wants to reach it, even if it seems impossible at the moment. There's almost a story to be told here, as Mike finds that courage to finally reach the light, he moves ahead while remembering what brought him to that point in 'Crossing A Line.'
Tragedy ensues every day, and the hardest part of it is learning how to move ahead. Mike Shinoda takes a big step forward with 'Crossing A Line' and 'Nothing Makes Sense Anymore,' two powerful tracks about courage and overcoming what may feel impossible, despite the world telling you no. Shinoda's journey is one many Linkin Park fans are still getting through, and just as he slowly finds the answers to the millions of questions, so are the fans. There is hope ahead, and Mike Shinoda will help us all find it (and even if that hope's the 16-track Post Traumatic album coming this June, we'll be perfectly fine with that).
CAL Rating: 95 / 100
NMSA Rating: 98 / 100
Stream or buy 'Crossing A Line' and 'Nothing Makes Sense Anymore' on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: