Incubus – 8
1. No Fun
2. Nimble Bastard
3. State Of The Art
7. When I Became A Man
8. Familiar Faces
9. Love In A Time Of Surveillance
10. Make No Sound In The Digital Forest
11. Throw Out The Map
Like many I have been a huge fan of Incubus since I first heard ‘Drive’ from their 1999 ‘Make Yourself’ album. I delved deep into their material and for a period in the early 2000’s I was exclusively listen to the band.
Incubus’ last offering 2011’s ‘If Not Now, When?’ didn’t hit me the same way the bands previous offerings had upon listening to it and I wondered if a once outstanding band had fallen by the wayside with the members all now focusing on their own projects away from the band. I have since gone back and listened to the album again and found it more likeable than I previously did but that’s just how it goes with music sometimes, you need a little time to let it settle and grow from what you think it is or what your expecting it to be.
This now leads us to the bands latest offering ‘8’, which was pretty much announced after I felt the band had faded into those previously mentioned projects and we were unlikely to ever get any new music after the ‘Trust Fall’ EP in 2015. Incubus are one of those bands that I still get excited about hearing new music from, so upon hearing the news of a new album and the release of lead off single ‘Nimble Bastard’ I was excited but a little cautious on what I was going to be getting from them.
‘Nimble Bastard’ quickly eased my concerns and I was excited to hear the rest of the album which leads us to this point in which ‘8’ is out in the world for all to consume.
The feel to this album is of the Incubus of old, the one that I fell in love with and obsessed about but there was something about the sound of those records that the band just can’t capture anymore or at least get back to. Now that may be a good thing as it shows growth but that old Incubus sound was special and gave you a nice warm feeling and painted nice California-style images in your mind, whereas now the sound is a little more harsh and in your face. At this point I would like to point out one thing about this record or at least its sound that I’m not really feeling or a fan of and that is the sound of the kick drum, I don’t know what it is about it that I dislike but it just sounds horrible to me, almost like it hasn’t been recorded properly, it sounds very dry and bit flat and seems to distract me a little every time it’s hit which of course is on a very regular basis.
However this is not to say that this album is a throw away or not worth your hard earned cash, this is Incubus after all.
I instantly feel in love with opening track ‘No Fun’ it has all the essence of the old incubus in it, it has a pace that is controlled but frantic, which is a trademark Incubus styling. ‘Nimble Bastard’ is up next and continues the “Yes! this is an Incubus record” feeling and that continues into ‘State Of The Art’.
After such a strong start ‘Glitterbomb’ and ‘Undefeated’ seemed like a bit of a disappointment but ‘Loneliest’ pulled it back with the band taking a bit more of an electronic feel. ‘When I Became A Man’ is a fun little 40 seconds or so that personally I would have left off.
‘Familiar Faces’ again gets the album back on track and again gets back to that vintage Incubus sound, saying that though it does have more of the sound of the bands ‘A Crow Left Of The Murder…’ sound and feel.
‘Love In A Time Of Surveillance’ by far wins the award for best title on the album if not for any song in the last 17 years and as you can guess talks about the times we find ourselves living in where everything little thing we do and every detail about us is wanted or obtained. The main riff for this song could easily be mistaken for that of Rage Against The Machine and may be the hardest/heaviest I’ve ever heard from guitarist Mike Einziger.
‘Make No Sound In The Digital Forest’ has a bit of a throw back to the early stoner funk days of the band but with a more modern sound and a little less of the funk.
The band close out ‘8’ with the heavy riffed ‘Throw Out The Map’ which again seems to take more of the ‘A Crow Left Of The Murder…’ sound. I’m still not sure why the last words uttered on the album are “Chaka Khan motherfuckers, Snap” but maybe I’ve missed something there.
So to sum up, ‘8’ is a fine album but nowhere near the bands early work which still holds a very special place in my heart and just means more to me. There are a few tracks on the album I feel could have been left off and no doubt some truly great stuff was left on a hard drive somewhere but I’m sure after a few more listens I will get use to those songs and grow to love them for what they are. I will always prefer the bands earlier work though and hope that they can someday get back to the high level of consistence that they had back in the day.
STANDOUT TRACKS: No Fun, Nimble Bastard, State Of The Art, Love In A Time Of Surveillance, Make No Sound In The Digital Forest