Before 2001, Incubus was more often associated with thrashing
rap-metal than with any other strain of rock music. Fusing fuzzy
noise with roaring guitars and electronic elements, the California
quintet was certainly traversing familiar late-’90s hard rock
territory. This description ceased to make much sense after the
massive success of their single “Drive” and the release
of Morning View that year.

Julie Pannuto
Drugs are bad … m-kay? (Courtesy of Epic)

“Drive” was incredibly mellow, featuring a soaring
chorus and a guitar part that Dave Matthews could have written.
Coupled with the release of the ballad-filled Morning View, it
seemed as though Incubus might have been headed towards Goo Goo
Dolls territory.

The Goo Goo’s completely switched their focus from raunchy
punk and messy hard rock to writing power ballads such as
“Iris” after the random success of 1995’s
“Name.” Some might call such a change taking a bold new
artistic direction. Most of those familiar with their older music
(admittedly few) would simply say they sold out.

Refreshingly, Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd fails to take his
band closer to Matchbox Twenty territory on their latest record
A Crow Left of the Murder. Instead, Crow is a
satisfyingly consistent alternative-metal album that will likely
please Incubus fans both new and old. This is an album that sounds
better and better with each listen.

The comparisons to other bands, however, are impossible to
avoid. Besides an ability to churn out somewhat inventive riffs and
hooks, their music is devoid of any uniqueness or originality.

Upon arriving on the California scene, Incubus was celebrated
and criticized for clinging closely to the thrash-funk of the
earlier Red Hot Chili Peppers. On this newest record, they owe more
to the guitar-driven sound of the most recent Chili Peppers music
or the jagged intensity of Rage Against the Machine than anything
else.

To say that Incubus lack the creativity of either band would be
an understatement. Nothing on Crow is as wonderfully breezy
or as cathartically rebellious as the latest material those two
bands have recently released.

Instead, what Incubus delivers on Crow lies somewhere
blandly in between. This should guarantee them a fair amount of
success and popularity with the mainstream teenage audience.
Boyd’s lyrics flirt with social commentary, but there’s
nothing particularly insightful here. “Since when did what we
pay for colored cloth gauge our gravity?” he asks in
“Zee Deveel.” Boyd should certainly have better
questions than this at age 28. But then again, maybe not, as two
songs later, Boyd confesses he “Understands why they say
‘high school never ends.’ ”

 

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

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