Album Review

Incubus "If Not Now, When?"

Chad W. Lutz
This is Incubus, the band that brought you Fungus Amongus (1995) and S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (1997). A band that historically embodies dread locks, punk thrash, and celestial conjugation; the same band that sold over 3 million albums in the late-1990s and early-2000s powered by smash hits “Drive” and “Wish You Were Here.” On July 12th, 2011, Incubus released If Not Now, When?, the second release on New York-based Epic records. With If Not Now, When?, Incubus tries to do what so many bands end up failing to do; reinvent themselves while staying true to the sound that made them famous.

From first listen, If Not Now, When? sounds like Incubus-gone-soft. The eleven-song album opens with the title track, “If Not Now, When?” (5:05) which sounds like a borrowed U2 melody. The lyrics, “Don’t you feel like something’s missing?” leaves me wondering if Incubus was secretly referring to its own music.

Hardly found throughout the entire 50:03 track listing is Mike Einziger’s iconic guitar playing. As a footnote barely audible in the background, Einziger goes mostly unnoticed while Boyd continues to push for softer and softer melodies uncharacteristic of their early success. The organ, an instrument not often thought when Incubus comes to mind, makes an appearance on a few tracks, most notably on “In the Company of Wolves” (7:35), one of the band’s longest songs-to-date and ironically boasting the lyrics, “longest night of my life.”

The first single from the album, the melodic pseudo-rocker “Adolescents” (4:50), was released on April 19th, 2011. The lyrics, “Out of sight, out of mind, out of time,” lend to the album’s many themes dealing with procrastination and alienation, a reoccurring theme in many other Incubus songs such as “Drive” and “A Certain Shade of Green.”

This is the first Incubus release in nearly five years. Serving as the studio follow-up to Light Grenades (2006), If Not Now, When? offers Incubus fans a different look at a band that used to open for metal acts like Korn, System of a Down, and the ever-so-loveable Ultraspank (if only for the name). The new album showcases a band trying to progress without losing what is essentially Incubus. However, the band seems to have ditched the heavy-hitting and sometimes comical lyrics to explore more serious, or at least more seriously, themes and ideas. Instead of thrash and bash rhythms interlaced with furious guitar riffs, we find a more laid back and melodic track-listing. Whether or not that’s pleasing to the ear is up to the listener. However, if you’re looking for a morning view drive down Incubus memory lane, take warning. You may end up running in circles.