I almost fell asleep driving to work this morning. Not because I’d been up at 6am, nor was it because I’d been so comfy and reluctant to leave my bed and wished I was still there, but because I’d decided to give Incubus latest release If Not Now, When? another run. I’d originally dismissed it as boring, and hadn’t given it many plays and so thought I had maybe been unfair; maybe it just needed more time. I was wrong. It needed less time.
I am a definite fan of the band. “Pardon Me” from Make Yourself is one of my favourite songs of all time in fact. I quite liked the first single “Adolescents” and although it clearly wasn’t as energetic as past material I still had high hopes for the rest of the album. I’ve even accepted the slow creep of ballads and less vigorous tracks into the discography, but If Not Now, When? takes the biscuit; it’s the proverbial straw, if you will.
Incubus is a band made up of talented musicians. Hell, in the past they’ve been one of the only bands with a turntablist/DJ (or whatever the appropriate term is) who actually contributed to the band and wasn’t relegated to a small sample blast or scratch here and there. With this album as evidence I’m not sure if Chris Kilmore is even on board any more. If it wasn’t for Brandon Boyd’s distinctive voice I’d wonder if this was even an Incubus album. I also questioned if any of the original band were there, even taking into account recent line up changes.
There’s just no dynamism to the music at all. There are no quirky bass hooks or deliciously complex guitar work. Even the use of an array of traditional cultural instruments that the band is famous for is missing. Any little hints of life in the opening few seconds of a track are quickly stamped down and the song quickly becoming a slow and lingering death. It’s just so appallingly bland. Hell, even the album cover is grey.
I realise that I’m reviewing this a year after its release, but I was loathe to write it at the time because I’m not a naturally nasty person and couldn’t manage to muster up any positives, so rather poorly I bailed out of writing about it at all. I don’t think I’ve actually written an entirely negative review before either, but listening to this again I feel the need to warn any unsuspecting listeners away. Maybe I should be more vehement in the destruction of this album, but it’s so boring I can’t actually be bothered to think of any good synonyms.
Luckily, Incubus has a considerably better back catalogue that I can fall back on and bask in the glory days of the band. Musicscramble doesn’t do ratings or a star system, but if it did this wouldn’t receive a star. It would receive a black hole – a massive star at the end of its life cycle that’s collapsed in on itself, sucking all life and light from the surrounding environment. If there is any one positive to take away from this album, track 2 is called “Promises, Promises” which made me go and listen to The Cooper Temple Clause instead.
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