Album Review: Incubus - 'If Not Now, When?'

4 August 2011 | 12:14 pm | Staff Writer

Soft but brilliant.

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“If not now, when?” was originally a quote from Hillel the Elder, a famous Jewish religious leader who was speaking about making the most of life and of oneself. It seems fitting that Incubus would adopt the quote as the title of their seventh studio album, which has been released nearly six years after their last offering, 2006’s ‘Light Grenades,’ making it the longest gap between albums in the band’s history.

After what was referred to by the group as an “extended hiatus,” the new music suggests that the band members are looking to ease back into things by releasing their softest and most simplistic record yet.

The album begins with the soft strings of the title track that lead to a gentle but driving rhythm forming the background for Brandon Boyd's brilliant voice and melodies. Most of the songs contain stripped back instrumentation to allow for Boyd to be the focus but the opening track is by far one of the most effective.

Second single Promises, Promises lifts the energy with a bright, piano driven alternative rock song that is an obvious choice for radio due to its catchy chorus and accessible sounding pop edge. This track is one of the best examples of the band's maturity and manages well to keep plenty of "Incubus" elements in the fold.

The guitar and bass take over the melody duties for Friends And Lovers, a sweet and romantic song that sums up the overall theme of the album in both a lyrical and musical sense. Jose Pasillas' drum lines are surprisingly simple yet extremely effective throughout the entire record suggesting that the drummer has experienced some musical progression during his time off. DJ Chris Kilmore has expanded his duties to include the keys, more than likely in an effort to stay relevant as the turntable really has no place in this music, or any rock music these days. Whilst Kilmore has dabbled in the keys on previous efforts, the piano is a much bigger element to the band's new sound especially in tracks like The Original.

The seven and a half minute In The Company Of Wolves is a little slow to get started but takes a huge turn at the half way point changing into a dirty, sexy bass driven jam. The most energetic and aggressive track is Switchblade, another standout, possibly due to the fact that it is almost out of place compared to the other songs and sounds like nothing else Incubus have done before. The record ends with the first single Adolescents, the most "familiar" sounding Incubus song and Tomorrow's Food, a soft number with folk tinges and sweet harmonies.

There will no doubt be plenty of Incubus fans who hate this record based purely on the fact that it is their softest release to date. Hopefully most people will look past that and acknowledge that the band member's song writing talents have matured making this record a logical step at this point in their careers. If you can appreciate that, you will really enjoy this record and know that Incubus have released another amazing album.

1. If Not Now, When?
2. Promises, Promises
3. Friends And Lovers
4. Thieves
5. Isadore
6. The Original
7. Defiance
8. In The Company Of Wolves
9. Switchblade
10. Adolescents
11. Tomorrow's Food

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