Incubus - If Not Now, When?
Record Label: Epic/Imortal
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Before I get started on this review, there is something that you, my reader(s) should really know. I absolutely adore this band. As far as I'm aware, anything that Incubus have ever done is gold. Anything that any of the members of the band has ever done, musically, artistically, anything at all, is gold. So you may not want to take this too seriously. However, for the sake of my 'reputation', I will endeavor to be as unbiased as humanly possible.
Considering that each record from Incubus has seen a different stylistic approach to its predecessor, one would expect this album to have been a massive leap from the heavily artistic, yet clearly directed rock sound of 2006's Light Grenades. If Not Now, When? does not disappoint on that front. From the moment you take a look at the minimalist, black and white album cover, you know that this is going to be something substantially different. If you think I'm wrong, check the artwork for the previous album and you will know what I mean.
Artwork aside, the differences continue from the instant you play the album's titular first track. The slowly pulsating rhythm of 'If Not Now, When?' very much sets the tone for a record that guides you by the hand throughout. Don't get me wrong, the listener will be challenged by the way that the band's sound is much deeper and cleaner that what one might expect from Incubus. However, the gentile sound mixed with Brandon Boyd's soaring vocals in the more epic tracks (see 'If Not Now, When?', 'Friends and Lovers', and particularly the album's closer; 'Tomorrow's Food') are still drenched with the band's staple metaphors and effects, allowing the listener to still sit well within their comfort zone.
That is not to say the album is entirely made up of songs that fans might consider alien. The singles; 'Promises, Promises' and 'Adolescents' are what you would expect them to be, with the former calling upon its simplicity, and heartfelt crooning (i.e. this album's 'Drive') and the latter jumping between a solid, rhythmical verse, and the BIG chorus one has come to expect since the departure of Dirk Lance to pastures alternate. The fact that Ben Kenney and Jose Pasillas II have quite clearly come on in leaps and bounds in terms of their ability as a rhythm section (in part due to time, and definitely helped by their participation in Mike Einziger's experimental jazz project: Time Lapse Consortium) is particularly clear to see in the verses of 'Adolescents'.
Throw these into the mix with the Pink Floyd-esque 'In the Company of Wolves' and the analytical commentary of 'Defiance' and you have an Incubus album that utilises the meanings and messages that made the band. Yes, the stylistic differences are there, and the band have made no issue of the fact that this record is a departure from what they usually do. But change does not always equate to bad.
OK, I have had to make that final point a lot when discussing this album, and I am aware that there are Incubus fans who dislike it. My theory is, they approached making the album in a way that was different to anything they have made beforehand. If one is not willing to approach listening to it in a different way, then where's the joy?
Brilliant! Makes me want to listen to a band I have not thought about listening to in a long time. Will have to give this newer album a listen and steer away from my usual Morning View and Make Yourself.
Haven't really gotten into their last few albums much, but this album hit me at the right time and place I guess. I was about to turn it off halfway through my first listen and then I got to the 2nd half of "In the Company of Wolves" and that made me give the rest of it a better listen. Great album, IMO.
I was surprised to only like one song on this one (loved it actually), and that was the first single anyway... A bit disappointing, I feel a little left behind. The band have changed, great, but into something I can't really relate with...