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Review: Incubus – If Not Now, When?

By Andrew Cream

Incubus are a great example of a band whose musical style has changed dramatically through time.

Their first studio album, Fungus Amongus, released 16 years ago, was an eclectic mix of funk, metal and rap, with the influence they took from bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Primus setting them apart from the countless other acts who were fusing distorted guitars and lyrical rhymes in the mid-nineties.

If we fast forward to the present, Incubus have made a name for themselves as one of the most diverse and successful alternative rock groups in the world, selling platinum albums and performing in front of thousands across the globe.

This was in part due to the success of their acoustic single Drive in 2001, and while the band haven’t been exclusively without distortion since then, If Not Now, When? is largely a laid-back and subdued affair.

Putting it bluntly, if fans were hoping for a return of the band who are responsible for alt-rock anthems Stellar and Nice To Know You, or even the dance-pop-rock of Black Heart Inertia, then there will certainly be some disappointment.

However, most people familiar with the band will know that this was never going to be the case, and if you approach this album with an open mind, there’s a lot you can take away from it.

The band’s seventh studio album, the first released after their hiatus in 2008, is a brooding and reflective record. Brandon Boyd’s distinctive vocals soar over the music, which ranges from soothing ballads to more complex compositions, but ones which still maintain a strong pop edge.

The title track is reminiscent of U2 in places, and while that may not seem appealing to many, it works particularly well. Again, their next single Promises, Promises evokes a more chilled out Maroon 5, but one written with added skill and composure.

There are odd hints of the band’s past, especially in the funky drum driven Switchblade, but overall If Not Now, When? picks up where the last album left off, and through its noticeable intelligence, it does well to tell the next chapter of the ongoing Incubus story.

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