It’s been a long time since the band’s 2006 album ‘Light Grenades’ hit the stores. It wasn’t a bad album - presenting some great rock anthems. But it failed to impress the die-hards, who sensed something was missing.
What was heard was the sound of a band drying up in what was once an abundant pool of creativity.
If that was the case then ‘If Not Now, When?’ will sound to them like a band that has finally dried up completely.
Straight away it’s evident that this album just doesn’t work for a band that once held the power to create exciting and original anthems. The moments of slap-bass and the blend of funk and rock seems to have gone. More importantly – it doesn’t sound like Incubus.
It’s a repetitive affair with ‘Isadore’ doing little to impress despite a few memorable opening moments, while some may question the point in the short and dull ‘Defiance’, where nothing really happens or encourages you to keep you listening.
‘Friends and Lovers’ is ultimately a cheap and…well…boring love song, as front man Brandon Boyd sings the simple yet cheesy, ‘Because in the end, we are friends and lovers.’
There are some encouraging signs of life though. The title track – while it may throw people immediately off guard with its 80’s beats and rock ballady feel- is in itself an enjoyable track, it slowly builds up, all the while keeping a steady and controlled pace throughout. ‘Promises, Promises’, is another slow track, but a chilled out and catchy one. But it’s one that ultimately does nothing for the album. While once ‘The Original’ gets past its shaky opening and gets a few minutes in, turns out to be one of the best moments present.
One thing that is a constant is Brandon Boyd’s incredible vocals. This he effortlessly shows in the throughout. Especially in the first single ‘Adolescents’ – which is a touchy and more upbeat song while still following the same formula with an irritatingly slow pace.
‘Thieves’ is where the pace finally picks up. With its catchy melodies and superb chorus it’s sure to be one for the masses whereas ‘In The Company of Wolves’ is a seven minute blockbuster of the older-style Incubus’ calibre. Showcasing some brilliant guitar work and haunting tones enhanced by some great arrangements to show why the rock veterans have been so successful.
‘Switchblade’ is more like it. Immediately sounding like something off the band’s 1999 ‘Make Yourself’, it brings back the funky tones, offbeat drums and catchy choruses that Incubus has become renowned for. Although it’s still not enough to make up for what is ultimately a disappointing and lacklustre album.
For the occasional fan, ‘If Not Now, When?’ may impress in some places. But most die-hard fans looking for the old Incubus will be sorely frustrated.
All of this makes the band sound like one that may have run out of ideas. Precariously scraping the bottom of the barrel in hopes of coming up with a decent song, which even five years ago seemed to come to them so naturally. It’s a shame to say that Incubus’ best days seem to be far behind them.
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- Amy Parker