"If Not Now, When?" by Incubus

Incubus
If Not Now, When?

Epic
2011

Review

On their latest album, Incubus decided that Brandon Boyd's opera voice should be placed front and center over minimal musical contributions from the rest of the band in lieu of any actual chemistry that the band has together in performing. The result ends up sounding a lot like all the slow parts in a Broadway play. Show tunes are not generally what I'm expecting to hear when I buy an album from what is ostensibly a rock band.

The two best songs on the album are the ones you've already heard on the radio. I'm talking about "Promises, Promises" and "Adolescents". Look, I won't sugarcoat it. I HATED "Promises, Promises" when it hit the radio. It's just sappy, sappy sap. "Adolescents" fares a lot better by sounding like an actual Incubus song. Everything else here sounds like "Promises, Promises" or worse.

I'm most definitely NOT an Incubus hater, despite what I just wrote in the last two paragraphs. I actually LIKE Incubus a ton. I thought that "A Crow Left Of The Murder" was really the high-point for the band. "Light Grenades" was a mixed bag for me and this is probably the least recommendable album the band has ever put out.

The problem is that it's almost completely a collection of ballads (or perhaps more accurately, slower Rock songs) and somber compositions. That can work, it just doesn't come together for the band this time out. When Beck put out his most depressing album ever "Sea Change", it was earnest and complex and had some great lyrics. He took his music in a totally different direction and it worked. Incubus is better off just being Incubus. I get eschewing the whole "Rock-Rap" thing (to be fair, Incubus never had a rapper, but they used to incorporate more Linkin Park style scratches and samples...at least early on into their popular music career) and to put out something to try to differentiate them from the rest of modern Rock-radio. I get it. But look, operatic singing with rote, trite lyrics while basically making the band sit around and do nothing is not acceptable. This is essentially a Brandon Boyd solo-record with Incubus's name on it to move units.

Sure a couple of the ballads hit in spite of themselves. "Isadore" and "The Original" are decent but man, these are some sketchy lyrics even for Brandon Boyd. When the music is rocking, we probably don't notice as much. But here, it's pretty glaring.

Even if you are an Incubus superfan, I think you are going to say "this isn't their best album". You'd be correct.

I want to know when they are going to put out a new ROCK record. One with LOUD GUITARS and BOMBASTIC DRUMS! Incubus: NO MORE BALLADS UNTIL YOU FULFILL THE UPTEMPO ROCKING ROCK SONG QUOTA. YOUR FANS DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THAT SHIT ANYMORE. "DRIVE" WAS AWESOME. TIME TO ROCK. THANKS K BYE.

You'll be saying, "A good song on this record. If not now, when?" The answer is, oh, about 10 tracks in.

3.091 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. If Not Now, When? (05:05) 3
2. Promises, Promises (04:25) 2
3. Friends and Lovers (04:07) 3
4. Thieves (04:17) 3
5. Isadore (04:35) 4
6. The Original (05:05) 4
7. Defiance (02:19) 1
8. In the Company of Wolves (07:35) 3
9. Switchblade (03:27) 3
10. Adolescents (04:49) 5
11. Tomorrow's Food (04:19) 3