REVIEW: Incubus – “If Not Now, When?”
Incubus / If Not Now, When? / Epic
Incubus has finally come out of a comatose period of extended hiatus. Ironically, the sweetly symphonic tunes the group has compiled on their seventh full length might be enough to lull fans into extended comatose periods of their own. It’s certainly a sleepier collection than longtime fans will be used to, but it’s not as if Incubus was a consistently heavy-hitting band in the past decade. For every frantic rock-out like “Megalomaniac” they had a mellow cool down like “Talk Shows on Mute” to make sure nobody’s trip became too harsh. But for the majority of the new album, it’s singer Brandon Boyd taking centre stage as a star-crossed troubadour in a series of ballads, while the rest of the group sticks admirably in a “subtle supporting role” formation. Instances of the nu-metal and surf-funk that once gave context to the group’s hallucinogenic aesthetic have been mainly vacuumed out in favour of a generic and inoffensive blend that could fit comfortably in the adult-contemporary or world music section.
Though, a bit of grit drops in at the midway point of the sprawling “In The Company of Wolves”, transforming it into a crunchy sort of funeral dirge. Boyd keeps things interesting in the high fantasy world of “Isadore” and the Zeppelin-esque but too-brief “Defiance” – but can’t save the lengthy bland romantic number “The Original”. For all of the appealing turns of phrase in lead single “Promises, Promises” and “Friends and Lovers” there are also instances, as on “Switchblade”, where it sounds like Boyd improvised a couple of lines during a preliminary jam and called it a song. While a useful tool for reminding the music world that Incubus is still in playing shape, If Not Now, When? doesn’t give listeners the sort of summer-defining experience that earlier cuts from the band have provided, nor does it give even a hint of the call to action hinted at in the title.
Download: “Promises, Promises”, “Friends And Lovers”
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