Album ReviewsHot

Incubus – If Not Now, When?

on July 08, 2011, 10:21am
incubus_cover C-
Release Date
Label
Formats

Where the hell has Incubus been? It’s been over four years since we nodded our heads to “Anna Molly” off of 2006’s Light Grenades, and in that time away, the band has managed to do a complete 180. Call it growth, call it maturity, call it whatever you may like, but when listening to their new album, If Not Now, When?, it’s difficult deciding exactly what to call it, as it leaves some head-scratching, utter confusion, and denial.

Maybe this was a little more obvious than that, though. After all, Light Grenades wasn’t the band’s best effort. A nearly five-year lapse in albums later (with a Brandon Boyd solo album mixed in), and this band’s headspace had to come into question. Instead of tremendous riffs and melodies, this album comes off as the Brandon Boyd show, volume II. Sure, his vocals and lyrics continue to prove amicable, but the rest of the band is almost non-existent. Almost every track on the album has a slow, elevator-music-style tempo, and lead guitarist Mike Einziger never really shows his off extraordinary skills. Either the band itself became lazy, letting Boyd take over, or they really enjoyed his solo album and wanted to continue on that path.

The first single, “Adolescents”, is a bit of a tease. It mixes sounds from everything in their past and makes you believe that this could be a very wild ride, as if instead of pushing the envelope further, they mixed a little bit of everything that got them to this point, which would have been a better approach. It can never be said enough: Bands mature, and it’s up to fans to either take that journey with them or not. Incubus obviously looked at what they had done in the past and wanted to throw everyone a curveball. Does it work? Occasionally. But, like it or not, this is their new sound. The crazy popular “Drive” was a different kind of track at the time for this band, so maybe fans just need to embrace this change and see what comes out of it.

Maturity aside, this disc just doesn’t make any sense coming from one of the more popular mainstream rock acts of the past decade. If you’re looking for any lingering sense of rock, you can find it on “Switchblade”, which resembles “Priceless” off 2004’s A Crow Left of the Murder… In the context of this album, this track seems very out of place. It appears forced, as if to bring back some type of familiar sound for fans, but the song itself falls flat regardless of its catchy chorus.

This isn’t a poor album, despite the confusion for longtime fans, and should appeal to those who are ready to embrace the band’s lighter side and more introspective lyrics. “Promises, Promises” is single-worthy on some soft rock stations, as is the acoustic “Defiance” (the latter track actually seems like a B-side off Boyd’s solo project).

The album peaks with the seven-and-a-half-minute “In the Company of Wolves”. Boyd sings epic lines like “In the company of wolves, I sat in silence, observant and afraid/He was there with the eyes like glowing embers/The man knew she was made.” This song, about a night of seclusion and a rite of passage, has a great mid-song breakdown where Boyd confesses, “It was the longest night of my life.” This song stands apart from all the others, not only in length, but because it’s the only time you get to hear the other band members do what they do best: jam. Performed live, this song promises to be a complete trip.

To say this album is a complete miss would be unfair. In reality, it’s a great band reaching for a completely different horizon, all with hints of their previous selves. The album will sell because of who they are, and the tracks will remain enjoyable because they sound good. What will be most interesting to watch, though, is where they go from here. Any band can make an off-genre album, but will they keep it up?

Feature artwork by Cap Blackard.

40 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

asha_alene
December 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Grow up and learn correct grammar. You sound like a child.

asha_alene
December 22, 2012 at 11:59 am

I agree with you on everything except the Coldplay part. :) I totally found myself fast forwarding through entire tracks, not realizing that they stayed exactly as bad as they started at the beginning.

asha_alene
December 22, 2012 at 11:42 am

After reading some of the comments below, (I don’t know why i even bother, it’s bad for my health), I can’t tell if some of the self-proclaimed “true Incubus fans” are serious or if they’re just trolls. Because if you are serious, calm down.

I’m not about to play pissing wars with anyone over who loves Incubus more, but i will say this: Incubus has always been one of my favorite bands. I’ve either loved or found merit in every one of their previous albums, (“Light Grenades” really being the only questionable one to me), but THIS ALBUM IS BAD.

Whatever a “true fan” is, (that phrase sounds really immature, btw), it doesn’t mean having to like everything a band comes out with. I appreciate bands evolving and going in different directions, (obviously, since I’m an Incubus fan). I also don’t expect Incubus to cater to what I or anyone else wants. That would be selfish, (and non-nonsensical, as that’s not how creativity works).

However, what I’ve always expected of them is to maintain a high standard of musicianship. You can say what you want about “beauty being in the eye of the beholder,” or art being subjective, or whatever, but when it comes down to it, this album didn’t take as much creativity or effort to produce as their previous ones. Much lesser musicians could have produced an album of this quality. The songs are not as complex, not as original (I think it was called the 80s? Or what soft rock stations have been playing for a couple decades?), and not as compelling to anyone who knows how to play an instrument. This is music for soccer moms, not music for musicians and music lovers.

I tried to force myself to like this album. I couldn’t. This album isn’t just Incubus bad, (which is still way better than most bands), it’s just bad.

skulll08
June 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I’m 27 now and I’ve been a massive fan of Incubus since I was in my early teens. Plain and simple this album is the biggest musical let down I’ve had from a band. It’s like the whole group got together and wrote Adolescents and then the other guys decided they’d rather not do the album but let Brandon produce something under the bands name. Its such a strange insight into if Brandon Boyd entered Pop Idol and produced an album at the end of it. (With the exception of maybe 2 songs). Yeah, some people say oh just listen to the lyrics and it makes sense. If the melody is crap and you are just listening to music purely for lyrics…go read a poem. I sincerely hope that incubus listen to the negative feedback that is coming from their longterm fans and do something about it. Considering their recently set lists I think this will be the case. I’m afraid to buy tickets to their up coming gig just in case they decide to play this garbage….never thought that would be the case. I just hope it doesn’t take quite as long before they release something to redeem themselves.

asha_alene
December 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Thank you for the poem part, I couldn’t agree more.

skulll08
June 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm

You clearly have never been into Incubus and have just checked them out for the first time. If this isn’t the case, I’m baffled at how you don’t find this album pure gank

Jesse Greathouse
May 24, 2012 at 11:30 pm

I think this review has a very shallow PoV about what this album is. It’s clear to me that this is a concept album. It starts out with a premise that also asks you a question, and ends with prompting you to make your own surmise. The album asks: “what is the most important,influential, or profound moment in one’s life?”. Then it takes you back in time to review the most profound moments in your life. Was it when you decided you wanted to be with the love of your life? Was it when you split up from your wife? Was it when you were alone? Was it when you were used? Was it when you fought back?  Was it the wild one night stand ? (switchblade FYI). 

I think it’s an amazing album in concept as well as musically. The album has a collection of mostly ballads, but all with amazingly original and distinct melodic qualities. If this album could see the light of day, from beneath the shallow muddle of everyone’s ridiculous  expectations, then it might actually be seen for what it is. However, this album will probably maintain it’s ”
Pearls before swine ” status because of how dull and unimaginative it’s own audience is.

asha_alene
December 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Hahahahaha

evan
May 31, 2013 at 10:55 am

call it what you want. call it a valiant attempt and a shot in the dark buuuuut.. they missed on this one, BIG TIME. i’ll agree, they were daring and tried to do something that they have never done and for that i respect it, but the execution was laughable. like honestly, half of the album reminded me of elevator music and the other half was contrived or basic one hit wonders. there were no classics, no songs that were mindblowing, nothing groundbreaking. it was a subpar attempt at reaching for the sky(at least i hope so) because you could make a strong case that the band let brandon take the reigns a little too much and wala! Brandon boyd’s solo album part 2…

Linda
May 16, 2012 at 7:44 am

The young Brandon Boyd had so much energy and it reflected on his old music. In Not Now, When, the 36 year old Brandon Boy sounds like someone who’s gone to war and has never been the same since. Their new music is a little bit depressing.

heidi_snhoj
March 26, 2012 at 1:56 pm

thing with this album is that every song is good, but putting them together didn’t make a good album

blah
December 24, 2011 at 11:06 pm

“egg” great comment. I don’t understand why incubus fans keep “expecting” incubus to play a certain sound. If you don’t like the songs on the new album for what they are (after careful and critical listening) then fair enough, but don’t go and judge the songs because they’re different, don’t sound like incubus (whatever that means) or are too soft. The thing that separates incubus from pretty much all other bands is that it is difficult to place them in any specific genre (nor should they be). If you’ve actually heard the band members speak about making albums you’ll know that they never try to plan out what they write. They write what comes out of them. So again, if you simply don’t like the songs and aren’t feeling them that’s fine, but people (especially reviewers) need to stop acting like they’re surprised the album sounds different and are somehow disappointed. I would be surprised and disappointed if incubus produced an album that sounds the same. There are already wayyyy too many artists and bands out there that get an A+ for making the same album 8 times over. One last thing. The fact that incubus can and does produce an album that sounds “different” is a testament to how great of a band they really are. All I have to say is… listen to make yourself or science and then listen to if not now, when? I don’t know many bands that have that kind of variety in sound and can pull it off (though I’m biased cause I think the new album is really cool).

Its-a-miss
November 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm

“Promises, Promises” is a fantastic song for the ladies….and men with vaginas.

Rockerlespaul
October 27, 2011 at 11:48 pm

I think this is the most accurate review of the album, I’m a long time Incubus fan and I loved it, sure I can’t say that it is the best Incubus album ever, but it’s a very good album, everyone should give it a second chance!

Egg
October 17, 2011 at 7:09 am

I challenge anyone to look at themselves first when pointing fingers & saying that ‘they’ have changed. In most cases people don’t like change and find comfort in the familiar – this album is a symbol of just that. How willing are you to challenge yourself and change first before packaging the world into what you think it should be.

‘I’m sick of painting in black and white 
my pen is dry, now I’m uptight 
So sick of limiting myself 
to fit your definition’

think about it people…

Egg
October 17, 2011 at 6:49 am

Exactly. People try to pigeon hole certain bands into genres & ‘expect’ them to retain that  label. If only people listened to what Brandon is actually singing about, on this album and the previous, they will realise that it isnt out of place at all!

dtmbro
August 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm

This is definitely not an Incubus rock album.  It is slow and love songy, but it is awesome!  I can’t stop listening.  It is a bit of a depressive, and it happens to really work for me right now; you just have to be in the appropriate mindset.  Print out the lyrics and follow along, and listen to Brandon carry out vocals like no other. 

Moneyisgood34
August 21, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I’ve loved Incubus since the early 90’s but I’m sorry I cant defend this album. Huge miss… still love them but huge miss

Xazwethinkweizx1
October 24, 2011 at 1:17 am

since the early 90s? They put out their first record in 97 if I have my dates correct. They started in the early 90s but they were in high school. Did you go to high school with incubus?

asha_alene
December 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

What are you trying to prove with this post?

Deviant24x
August 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm

This is not the Incubus I know and like. What a bland and uninspired effort by this band. I’m completely disappointed. There is no rock in this album, it is all radio-friendly pop tunes and the crooning of Brandon Boyd. If you like the band because you think the singer is “hawt” you’re more likely to enjoy this album. If you enjoy Incubus’ music because they are creative, challenging, and have some talented musicians, you might want to just pretend this utterly disappointing and mediocre album never existed.

Stseantmusic
September 16, 2011 at 5:42 am

You-said-it-my-friend!Just-purchased-their-new-album-and-I-had-to-check-and-see-if-I-might-have-grabbed-someone-else’s-by-mistake.Complete-pop-status-acoustic-crooning,playcating-to-the-younger-female-generation.No-disrespect-but-I-felt-this-band-was-immune-to-selling-out…I-was-wrong!Epic-FAIL

Xazwethinkweizx1
October 24, 2011 at 1:21 am

Right. If anything their creativity rings more true in this album than any of them so far. They have 100% transformed themselves, and unfortunately for them have had very little radio play. That being said, I doubt that’s what they were trying to do with this album. This is nowhere near a pop album. If anything they’ve become much more progressive than they use to be. If it doesn’t please your ear, I don’t blame you. Everyone has different taste. But let me tell you, they did not make this album for the radio.

Guest
December 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

You don’t know what progressive means.

hijinx
August 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Yeah, the album isn’t your typical Incubus , but it’s okay.  I do kind of wish for more of a mix of some old Incubus jams.  Saw them this past Friday Live in Hawaii (http://www.honolulupulse.com/music/review-incubus-at-kakaako-waterfront-park) and the boys still rock, Brandon’s vocals are still as sweet as ever.  And just to let you know, they performed “In the Company of Wolves” as one of their three encore songs- and it was a complete trip.

Aa
July 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Why don’t you accept it? They’re true fans and they still think this album is boring… 

Aa
July 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I liked Incubus since “SCIENCE”, but this album is boring as watching a dog eating crap.

Anonymous
July 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Guess your boring pass time is watching dogs eat crap…. No offense!  There is a time and season for everything… Sometimes it is also important to stop and smell the flowers, watch the white puffy clouds floating by, and enjoy the breeze. Life cannot always be speed.  Hope you can set aside the dog eating poop long enough to listen…learn….and get enlightened.

skulll08
June 15, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Dude you are hilarious. The album sucks. Perhaps rainbows and flowers would come out of this album for some people for for actual Incubus fans who enjoy the music they have been releasing over the years this album is shocking. Bob Dylan nailed it on the head however they should still be pleasing the group of people that they please from the start

sonngodess
July 18, 2011 at 4:18 am

I totally agree. I feel like the musicians in the band didn’t get a chance show off their amazing talents like usual.

Mrlando33
July 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Different but really relaxing…i dig it. Cant wait to see them at red rocks for the third time;)

Mrlando33
July 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I agree…

Mrlando33
July 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Your not really a fan…if u were u wouldnt post such an immature comment. Ill bet u a million bucks itll grow on you. Just like light grenades did……

Guest
December 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Grow up and learn correct grammar.

Usawrestler
July 13, 2011 at 1:57 am

Every Incubus album including this one is different from the last. if you listen to them in successsion you can hear the meld of the sound evolution.  Incubus is truly one of the most creative, talented bands with staying power.  They have joined the ranks of classic bands who encompass so many genres and evolve such as Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, and Van Morrison.  This is the reason that you hear new albums from Incubus after the “alternative” music era is a decade past.  Listen to a recent Godsmack album and you will understand the difference.

c
July 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm

i too was afraid- when everyone began speaking about the soft nature of it- i have been a fan since the dawn of time -as everyone else– however- i really followed their live performances as well as purely instrumental tracks that were used in a surfing documentary as well as their own “look Alive” dvd–between ’07 -current time and not only were they truly growing that whole time –this is to me like the finale of  a great fireworks display– at first each thing is their own shape, color and sound–and people just spin in circles -going –ooh -ooh look here no there –each person with their own favorites— different styles but equally worthy — but then at the finale- you just look -and are filled- without being overwhelmed –just happy

 which of course is only my opinion —plus- I heard that clip of tomorrow’s food- from a few years ago– and since then have been on edge waiting to get to this point- -(yes i’m a one of those eco people too-so it was just funny cuz its just true– this world is changing in a way that is hard for anyone to take in conventionally anymore– this epitomizes that– mourning the rush of the frentic blast of technology and physical disruptions– but is moving forward with a new solution-
—————————————————————————————————————————-
but as everyone else is so passionate about this one—liking or totally disliking–i figure i’d just lay out my peace because this here is my “If not now when  moment”- and i dont mind at all if you guys think i’m a complete fruitcake—but maybe it might give at least someone something to really think about–
—Mike’s symphonic piece (played at Disney music hall) had a movement being anchored by typewriters-which to me is comforting in that guttural sense -like bubble wrap – and it was insanely great- the idea of it alone is refreshing –but the execution was genius–also Ben’s ‘roots’-are showing full on(yes punny)but seriously– it is the most cohesive albums they have ever done –

i do hate to take offense to anyone else’s comments or feelings but –i HATE elevator music- and musically for me this album is intricate as hell — each one is of different emotions-therefore they shouldn’t sound the same the evoke a more primal –feel- -and now Brandon Boyd is saying less-possibly because he’s had the time to sit down and see that in the end- in most way these days —less is more– -nothing is harder in this world than actually producing things that sounding like they are easy— but what is not–is what people want them to make to appease others it
is vulnerable because they are actually sharing—themselves-  It is
about absolute reflexive commensality—

And ya know-the lyrics never truly made sense entirely before but the point was how his words played as instruments to cimpliment the rest of the others— As I appreciate a wide range of musical styles-especially the–“what category does this fit into? file” –I am astounded and wholly fullfilled–  its like any other art form– sometimes the beauty is in the activation of the negative space–   this is not categorical frankly because noone compares— this is not to say everyone will enjoy it–or other bands are less worthy— but they are not the same–but again like staring at a very simple “looking painting”– sometimes you have to just stare at it awhile- and then truly get it— or you choose to move on to something that fills you–
– one of my favorite songs is still Vitamin—but I love it the way they play it as adults–its everything hard and full–but its better– i mean i ran around with the boys in the big pants and all was into the all other underground hectic
mess–but ya know– i’m only 4 years younger and somehow i’ve sorted shifted this way myself as many if not most of my peers– in the beginning everyone loved them cuz it was for this core pack of kids who found no other outlet that was made for them—- well maybe now its different than anything anyone expected–but still the same in its point– but we aren’t in high school or college either- “those kids were US when we were kids” —this album is made by adults- i still believe it welcomes the younger fans as openly–but it speaks to many of the same people it always has– and they are wayyy too talented a band to have to always turn the circles they were at 24–

feel free to wield the daggers if you need to–but i just feel like for them to put themselves out there is not a far reach from a new england witch trial– and i guess i am super pissed off about the way the crazy people in Malaysia are treating them without even knowing them– and the charity work they do –not to show off but to share–and give back–so-and with all the emotions of mixed reviews -amongst the blast i’m sure of what comes tomorrow- i just want to sink in the fact that we love them cuz they are different– this is music and as i said i have zero ill judgement of anyone this album doesn’t reach but i felt the need to say ahead of time– i’m tired of living in a free world that is becoming much less free even in our own country– so i applaud the brave effort and think they should be commended for ushering change in a way that will spark conversations–and allow people to speak up without feeling alienated -and wish them luck– and thanks-

as i said -sorry for the length-and the soapbox but i’ve said it all and now i’m going back to bed- without ever ranting on the subject again– i am still not even sure what twitter is and why? and would normally never do this kinda thing— but i am here too—and many people like me just shrug stuff off – and since i not only am a fan—- but truly heard this on one of the days that i am sicker than i’ve ever been before–approaching surgery and anxiety —– this made my head not hurt–and i can sleep now— if they can do that for me–its worth me giving back i suppose–
——
 maybe you younger sprier–or my age and sprier with all the thousnads of friends can storm the manila crowd- whether we like each other or not -and them or not— i feel we all count as much as justin bieber fans who blasted a talented musician with hate crap– crazy menopausal women wanting to run around limiting people from the chance to do well anything–cuz we’re all kinda scared now—so  maybe you guys — passionate or moderate–from middle ground– can actually ‘let freedom ring”- then watch it on tv– from the phone– take the talent to spread the love —i respect this original article and know that ‘nobody here is hating per se —and respect everyone for just saying it out loud– but– what’s gonna happen tomorrow when jerry fallwell or some bologna tries to block them for us to-on the jesus crispy channels — and to let everyone get the chance to hear stuff and get mad enough to cuss in abbreviated form–quickly–
—wake your friends up -and give a shout out —-
–part of me picking a non-official post is because of the fact that too many people will send the love– in the form of–please brandon boyd bear my child—and turn us all into what looks like justin bieber fans– so what now? from those of us at least evaluating the music –especially us that it just hits right because maybe some else feels like crap to but could possibly actually be in comfort
–i really am going to bed–but y’all are cool and worthy too–so keep on keeping on
–i’m just saying-
christina -nc

Kevin Corcoran Jr
July 9, 2011 at 5:11 am

Thinking of how much I have changed in the past 5 years… (getting my license, first car, gambling for the first time, graduating high school, drinking legally) I can understand why this album is so much different than anything before that they have done. But.. understanding that a lapse in time that long for any band would change their sound is where you have to put your mind. If they basically rewrote a new version of morning view then everyone would complain that they haven’t grown.. I think this album speaks for the time they have been missing. It speaks to me, anyway, and with their headquarters idea in LA i think it’s really going to make a lasting impact!

BABA GANOUSH
July 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

just get over it and grasp the new incubus….you sound like the people whining about linkin park’s new album….be a true fan and move with the band

crazyguy11
July 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm

As a die hard fan of Incubus, I wish I didn’t agree with what you say but its all true. This album while pretty to listen to is a real change in everything Incubus used to be, I hope they have it out of their systems and can move on to make more driving albums in the future.

mitchopolis
July 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I couldn’t agree with your entire review more. I was very disappointed in the album because it was not the Incubus I have grown to love and follow. If this was music from a band other than Incubus, I would love it; but the fact that it is a different Incubus, leaves me struggling to really enjoy it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,554 other followers