New Music Review: Incubus; “If Not Now, When?”
Incubus is one of those “once in a generation” bands that comes along and changes the sound of popular music. When they first gained mainstream success with Make Yourself songs like “Pardon Me”, “Stellar” and “Drive” ruled the charts and were more of a representation of their growth as a band than who they were in the past. In the age of Nu-Metal, Incubus hit the scene and showed that a band with immense talent, intricate lyrics and complicated melodies could make it to the top of the charts and quiet down a phase of music many of us wish we could ignore so we can finally part with our favorite pair of UFO pants.
As Incubus progressed away from Fungus Amongus and S.C.I.E.N.C.E. they started to employ more complex guitar chords and layered music to show off their range and skill. Trying to show they wanted to be the Pink Floyd of their generation, Incubus explored music and expanded their horizons as they grew as musicians. Unsurprisingly as they did this their entire sound transformed and they could no longer be compared to the Incubus of yesteryear. The days of Certain Shade of Green and New Skin are gone forever, Incubus, especially with “If Not Now, When?”, have little to no shade of their punk roots left and can arguably be called an alternative band in their new incarnation.
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“If Not Now, When?” is more of testament to the bands Incubus grew up with than the music they got popular playing. Hearing shades of bands like Pearl Jam, Coldplay and Pink Floyd, Incubus flexed their music muscle and tried to really strip away the distorted guitars and heavy riffs to show their softer side. Unfortunately the album failed to impress me at any point. It sounds uninspired and gets boring after the first two song as they all pretty much sound the same all the way through. Maybe it’s the “old Incubus” fan in me but I was waiting for the album to really pick up speed and it only kept dragging on. Where “Wish You Were Here” and “Light Grenades” certainly had their ballads they had the speed to back them up and keep the listener entertained, even the song Dig from “Light Grenades” was a ballad, but it didn’t put me to sleep.
I really tried hard to get into this album but it was just too hard to get through, even “Gold Cobra” from Limp Bizkit was more entertaining, but I was laughing while listening to that one, not cringing.
There were some bright points on the album though.
If Not Now, When reminds me of older Incubus where Brandon Boyd really takes front and center and bares it all and wears his heart on his sleeve. A passionate song that showcases the band and truly encompasses their progression and that keeping it simple can be more effective then trying to knock the walls down by turning the volume to 11. I am a huge fan of Brandon’s imagery and that is probably the best part of the album and it truly shines through on this track.
The most disappointing track on the album is In the Company of Wolves where Incubus almost takes away all of their original sound and creates a song that sounds like a cheap imitation of Coldplay, yeah it hurt me to say that too.
I’m not sure if Incubus was trying to break expectations or if they were trying to show they are more than a “progressive rock” band but they missed the mark with “If Not Now, When?” A true disappointment through and through and probably an album that I will never listen to again, such a shame as Incubus is ranked really high up there on my all-time favorites list.
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