For easily over a decade, I have been well versed in the works from a little band from Calabasas that you may have heard of. That bands name is Incubus, and they are in fact, one of the key reasons that I got into music journalism and performance. I don’t think that fact has been more evident of just how powerful music can be than with their 7th studio album, If Not Now, When?
I’ll start by talking about the current dialogue is with the band; that the band has “strayed away from their roots” and changed for the worse. But I do ask to the people who have defected over the years…what two albums of Incubus have had a similar feel or sound? I can’t name any, and I doubt you can either. Most importantly, the band has maintained the ability to get people thinking, and get people talking, all while having great musicians, and great studio quality throughout (for the most part; the beginning albums obviously wasn’t as fine-tuned as now). This is definitely the best composed album they have written to date.
On the new album, lead singer Brandon Boyd knows that he has the attention of young hearts and minds, like many popular musicians do. The genius thing about it, is what he chooses to bring to the table as a lyricist; the state of world affairs, and rather than giving a glaring generalization, he has instead chosen to let the youth (hell, and beyond) know that they are important, and more specifically, that he, and all of us are flawed. Of course the final message is to love and make the differences that you can, when you can (the track Tomorrow’s Food being the perfect example). Of all the times I’ve met him and the band, they always remember to be kind and have a good time. The world is an island, and they are indeed all for making it better than they found it.
Of course, now I give you my thoughts on their latest album.
Growing up in the predominantly white suburban city of Moorpark, I felt like the self-dialogue that track four, Thieves, spoke to me more than I expected it would. As grateful as I am, there was always that set of questions that the lyrics seem to capture perfectly. ‘When will I get mine, and must I be a God fearing, white American? ‘ rings about during a verse, with a steady and rounded bass line by Ben Kenney. Inner dialogue is universal, and this was a well done song that I’m sure some will resonate with.
Of course Incubus had to include a song to make all the girls wild, and this time around that song is track nine, Switch Blade. Jose really came through with the cymbals, keeping an upbeat tempo while Mike goes wild, and Ben lays the funk down like a boss. A haunted Brandon describes a disarming temptress with green eyes, a black hat, and thigh highs. Ten bucks says at least a hundred girls per concert will dress like that to a T.
Overall, my favorite song was the eighth track, In the Company of Wolves. I’m big on imagery, and this song painted it beautifully. Beginning on a light note, maybe a funeral, speaking of someone here that is now gone. Perhaps this was the death of a personal phase, and not a physical person. Organs by Chris Kilmore solidified the scene, with the rest of the band behind him. After a reluctant Brandon tells the tale of sitting in the corner with the wolves, being observant, the mood shifts. A dark fog brought on by strings finally breaks with a funky bass line, and steady drum pattern. Brandon’s voice echoes, and talks about a beautiful night; a rite of passage played out over a hard remembered memory. It’s hard to explain, but to me, this was the most cohesive song on the album. It had it all, and even jammed out for an explosive ending.
Incubus is still exploring their talents without sacrificing what makes them great. Honestly, I didn’t mind the several year wait for the new album, because the work put into it was…. Well, the proof is in the pudding, or whatever the hell they say. If Not Now, When? comes out this Tuesday, July 12th, with their first California date set for this Friday at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Tickets are sold out like a muhfugga, so hopefully you got your hands on one.
Until next time my friends,
P.S.- Sugar. Water. Purple. True fans will understand.