When I listened to Incubus, I used to be inspired, put at ease, thrown into harmonious music bliss, and lyrically enlightened. That is actually pretty deep and very serious to say about any experience in life. Incubus really used to do all that for me. I would wake up on a Sunday morning and have a yearning for great songs like “11am,” “Southern Girl,” “Talk Shows On Mute,” “Mexico,” “Nice To Know You,” “Aqueous Transmissions,” “Are You In,” “Dig,” and who could forget that all time love making classic in “Stellar.” I could go on and on… That music is great.
Beautiful melodies and well played harmony, very distinct instrumental dynamics, amazing Brandon Boyd vocals, and an incredibly pleasing mesh of rhythm, bass, synthesizer, lyrical, and keyboard sounds. That stuff is good mood music, music to enjoy on the beach on a sunny afternoon while smoking a J, music that puts you and the significant other in that all too private and touchy mood, music that you sing to each other. I guess what I am really saying is that the Incubus of past years has etched itself in my musical upbringing and enjoyment of good relationships, among other things. So when I heard they were finally coming out with their 7th big studio album release, If Not Now, When?, you can imagine my excitement.
And yet, as I sit here just having listening the complete album in its entirety for the fourth time, I am finding it very difficult to say nice things. What saddens me most about it is the fact that they already had me anxiously waiting with the news of its release, but after jogging with it, drinking with it, and head-phoning it during a BART ride, I cannot find many things to write home about. I guess it is just extremely boring. There is not much of anything going on. If I had to pick a favorite song it would definitely be the hit single “Adolescents.” It is the closest thing that resembles my fond memories of Incubus. Well layered instrumental sounds and harmony coupled with those awesome Boyd vocals. A mid-song break down where things get really quiet and a nice, chill whistle sound mimics a unique synthesizer melody provides a hint of signature Incubus. Finally, a tweaked guitar solo! These elements are what made Incubus great for so many years and helped develop a truly unique style in the abyss of today’s alternative rock realm. You can check it out here if you so desire: Incubus: “Adolescents”. There is another video floating around for a track called “Promises, Promises.” See it here: Incubus: “Promises, Promises”. This song could have passed for the one or two ballad tracks on the album, but viewed within the records entirety, it does not provide anything extra. An easy going piano melody, relaxed lyrics, and tambourine sum up its cause.
The rest of the album, well, quite frankly, is a big disappointment. Excuse my French. It’s like listening to a lazy and boring mash up of every slow ballad track that never made it onto past albums. Maybe it is meant as an acoustic album to another big studio production that will never be made. Bottom line, it is just not like any of their other stuff that I have grown to love over the years. I mean, I totally understand the motivations of any well established band to evolve their style and try new things as they mature, but the root essence of what defines that style should never be lost. Not ever. 3 of the bands current 5 members have been in the band since their root release in 1991, Fungus Amongus, and it only seems natural that after all this time some creative evolution was necessary. However, it sounds like this was a thrown together production to spur a new tour. Maybe Boyd and the other artistic minds behind Incubus want to move away from music and figured they needed to have one last hurrah and If Not Now, When? One thing is for sure, Incubus’s inventive efforts and my musical taste have completely diverged and, needless to say, I will not be buying any tickets for the tour scheduled later this year.
~Huge disappointment for Incubus fans of old. Brandon Boyd must have gone off the deep end during his solo career.