Incubus – If Not Now, When?

Incubus has been around two decades now. Their seventh full length album, If Not Now, When? arrived July 12, 2011, 16 years after their debut album Fungus Amongus was released on Stopuglynailfungus Music On Chillum. Album by album Incubus’ sound has grown, softened, changed and been refined. And I suppose that this was the likely outcome of that. Soft, as simple and predictable as can be, with bland lyrics and clichéd chord progressions.

When the first single “Adolescents” arrived back in April, my excitement bordered on uncontainable. Incubus hadn’t released a new album since Light Grenades in 2006. A break originally started due to guitarist Mike Einziger’s carpal tunnel surgery. When Monuments and Melodies, their greatest hits album arrived in ’09 I was convinced Incubus was over. Many had moved on to side projects, solo work, etc. Einziger wrote and conducted a full-scale orchestral concert entitled End.>vacuum while also attending Harvard for graduate musical studies. Brandon worked on his visual arts career and solo music projects and Bassist Ben Kenny moved forward with his solo work. Life went on for Incubus members and fans alike. Then they came back.

The more songs from If Not Now, When? leaked the more my excitement dwindled. Now it’s been released and I finally committed myself to listening to it, beginning to end and I sit here on the final track with only one thought floating through my mind, “It could be worse.”

The intro and title track makes me cringe; almost 80s like with its slow drawn out vocals and pop-ballad sound. The first few tracks in general almost had me in tears for what Incubus used be. The unique tones of Brandon’s voice missing, overly simple and barely there drums make crave Jose a la “Rouges” or “Pardon Me” where the drums actually meant something. Speaking of “Pardon Me” In “Promises, Promises” Brandon makes reference to being 23 “for another hour give or take” and either he has forgotten that he is now 35 (sorry to remind you if that’s the case) or it a well-placed allusion to, “Pardon Me” one of their first big hits. I am inclined, based I on what I knew of Boyd’s lyrics that the latter is the more likely case, but it’s almost too clever to fit with the rest of this album. His usually caustic and subtle word play is lacking in the majority of the tracks, so when he has a moment of brilliance I doubt it before it hits home.

I’ve heard it muttered around the internet (but can’t seem to find a source) that their intentions with this album were that it was to be as simple as possible – that they only had to drop the vocals entirely and they could have jumped right on the post rock band wagon. Instead it comes off more pop-rock than the funk-metal that Incubus once was, and has been spiraling away from at greater speeds with each successive album.

The only songs on the album I find worth listening to are the final three, “Switchblade”, “Adolescents” and “Tomorrow’s Food”. Still not to the Incubus standard I am used to, but passable. Other songs like “Promises, Promises” and “Thieves” hold potential and barely detectable hints of the unique sound I have always thought Incubus possessed, but fall flat overall. This isn’t what I wanted or expected from Incubus, but as I said, it could be worse.


One Comment

  1. Kyle wrote:

    I was going to take a look at this one, but just couldn’t even crack it open.  ‘Adolescents’ was the only high point of the disc.  :s

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