If Not Now, When?  by Incubus (Epic Records, 2011. 50 minutes)

From California, Incubus is a rock band comprised of Brandon Boyd, Mike Einziger, Jose Pasillas, Ben Kenney, and DJ Kilmore. With seven full-length albums, Incubus has reached multi-platinum sales and is arguably considered the most successful rock band of the early 2000s. Gaining prominence during the nu-metal trend of the late nineties, Incubus is often classified with Limp Bizkit, Korn, and P.O.D. Yet, the band’s style contains alternative rock, hip hop, jazz, funk, and metal influences.

Post-Hiatus

After years of constant touring, Incubus faced a dilemma: either they continued prolific songwriting with diminishing returns or they take a break, fall in and out of love, experience life in all its dimensions, and return with songs that carry the terrestrial weight of reality.

If Not Now, When? is the culmination of the second route. With the prolonged break, the band found reflection in life outside of a tour bus. Additionally, guitarist and principle songwriter, Mike Einziger, went to Harvard and studied music composition. As a result, If Not Now, When? replaces the complexity of previous records with a newfound drive for simplicity.

Lazy Simplicity

Sadly, If Not Now, When? more often than not sounds like a lazy simplicity. It is said that the most difficult song to write is a simple one. Musicians always want to add sound to a composition – just listen to all the guitarists at Guitar Center! The difficulty, though, comes from finding beauty in the simplicity. Thus, beautiful but simple music is difficult because it forces the writer to concoct melodies with emotional pull.
Despite the push for simplicity on the new record, Incubus too often removes riffs and resorts to simple chord progressions. With work on excellent counter-melodies, If Not Now, When? could function well. As it stands, it is quite boring. Case in point, the opening track drags with a manufactured gravitas that plods boringly.
Aside from the first single, “Adolescents,” an upbeat tune that closely resembles previously work from Incubus, the album feels forced and boring.

New Is Not Better

Given the attempt to plug back into the real world to create more compelling content, I must say that Incubus failed. The record isn’t horrible; but it by no means represents their best work.

Verdict: 2.5 out of 5

 

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