INCUBUS – 8 (Album Review) – 12/4/17
Incubus is back after two years with their newest album 8, an eclectic mix between instrumental trances and punk like anthems, making for a solid set to fade away into the alternative confines of the Incubus universe. Their iconic tone can be heard from start to finish with rhythmic feels changing from song to song, keeping your neck muscles in peak condition as your head bangs on and on.
The first track introduces the album with No Fun, a definite reminder that Incubus is here to stay and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Their trademark sound can be heard through the vocals of Brandon Boyd as the song kicks off into an upbeat jam. All this energy suddenly surrenders itself to a dream like interlude before reinvigorating back to the punk like nature of the chorus.
When I listened to Make no Sound in the Digital Forest I had no idea that it was purely a solo track! The whole feel behind the transgressive nature of the song reminds me of a John Frusciante experimental piece from one of his solo albums. Nonetheless, with a bell effect on the keyboards set in heavy reverb, a subtle bass and drum part all sitting alongside some simple guitar licks, the track succeeds in seducing the listener into a vast state of tranquility and the surreal. Instrumentals aren’t in everyone’s taste, but if you find yourself enjoying the absence of vocals, then it isn’t hard to say Make no Sound in the Digital Forest is a pleasant escape from the up beat formula the album is based on.
Throw out the Map, starts with a dream like key solo before returning with Jose Pasillas’ powerful drum beats. The effect ridden keyboard looms in between the accompaniment of the band, crying like banshees in the wind. The whole album showcases how important each member’s contribution is to the Incubus sound, but for me it was Chris Kilmore’s soft elements in this song that demonstrated the familiar tone we know Incubus for. The verse leads into a fuller and powerful chorus guided by Boyd’s vocals to create a great intensity.
Nimble Bastard’s muffled guitar riffs by Mike Einziger with the punk influenced drums charging in the back deliver an enticing track from the get go. With the broken style flow of the verse, my inner tempo exercised itself, especially when the chorus came along. You know those times when you look like a weirdo rocking out to tunes, with your headphones plugged in at full volume. Listening to this song will definitely bring about one of those episodes. The subtlety in pace from verse to chorus also makes this track easy to lose your sense of time with the song, not realising that the end is near for most part.
But the album isn’t only packed with punk paced hits. Loneliest is a distinct track that creates a lot of depth , and I feel like that was the intention of the song. It’s a cold, dark yet melodically beautiful song. You can tell Boyd was the loneliest ‘he (has) ever been tonight’ by the rogue beats throughout the song and its rich lyrical value.
State of the Art is also another softer track on the album. Now it just might be me, but listening to it sounds like Boyd is singing to you: “Look at you, you’re falling apart. Built to spare, you’re state of the art. Now look at you, well look at you now.” It’s as if he has come to save you. You can definitely feel his warmth radiating off the track as it pulls all the heart strings you have to offer.
Incubus though, have always seeked to add strange notes and sections in their work to refresh us and readjust our bearings to appreciate their songs more. Glitter Bomb and When I Become a Man do this for me. Even though the latter is a 56 second comic stunt of latin American sounds and 1950s singing.
Out of all the song on the album though, Undefeated is my favourite. The introductory ‘wahs’ from the distorted bends of the guitar for some reason reminded me of The Pixies’ Where is my Mind. Even throughout the chorus these bends rings out, dramatising the song to it’s full potential. The proverbial less is more approach is clearly demonstrated in this track as the drums sync with both Ben Kenney’s authoritative bass playing and the keys for audiences to enjoy. The only thing guiding the listener towards the end of the song is Boyd’s softer take on his vocals. Towards the end, the song climaxes to signify the death of a great track, definitely one of my favourites on the album.
Familiar Faces is another hit with modern day undertones of the rock/pop genre. This is solidified within the funk like guitar playing and dictative bass and keys. Reverb and heavy vibrato effects mimic ocean ambience as the drums kick on to keep the familiar effect of being hit with a double shot espresso and getting lost in the experiment nature of the effects usage—With that being said, it’s very much a good thing!
Surveillance brings it old school, with the intro sounds of old internet connections before packing a thick uniformed riff that has grunge punk written all over it. The verse is reduced to a catchy distorted guitar riff that saws it’s way through to the chorus, as accentuated key notes arise within the verse. ‘Big Dad’ in the lyrics sounds like it refers to the panoptic authority in today’s world. With references like ‘I got your number’ and “please explain it to me big brother, why are we spying on each other?’ Clearly showing Incubus’ ability to speak about problems in the world today with such a low key within their songs that you’ll get an enjoyable ‘raising of your awareness’ by just sitting back and playing the track.
Incubus has been rocking out the alternative rock scene for the past 26 years now. By listening to this album I could tell straight away this is Incubus, and with the very much anticipated release of 8, I doubt they will be slowing down any time soon.