Welcome back Incubus! Several years have passed since their almost-seminal Morning View, and it would seem they are a little older and a little wiser. Dirk Lance left amid controversy, and in stepped Ben Kenney, bass player with the kings of live hip hop The Roots. Lance was a significant figure with regards to Incubus’ musical direction, so how does this substitution affect proceedings?
For a start, A Crow Left Of The Murder does not reveal itself lightly. In fact, it is the only Incubus album thus far not to knock you over on a first listen. Recent single Megalomaniac, as album opener, would have you believe differently, but Incubus are more comfortable with themselves than ever, and the rest of Crow demonstrates this perfectly.
Tracks throughout the album are heavily inclined to meander off in various directions after a couple of minutes before ultimately returning to their original sound before ending. Whichever way you look at it, it would appear that Incubus (and specifically guitarist Mike Einziger) appreciate their prog-rock values. Pistola is the most obvious example, with punky song Priceless and the impressively bitter Sick Sad Little World (“Leave me here in my stark-raving, sick, sad little world!”) also boasting experimental tendencies.
There is, however, no cause for concern here. A Crow Left Of The Murder is still Incubus through and through: Jose’s drumming is still feverish, Mike’s guitar work is Morning View through a pedal, DJ Kilmore continues to add subtle texture throughout, Brandon’s lyrics and vocals justify his ever-growing popularity and new bassist Ben Kenney slots comfortably into the line-up. Moreover it would appear that none of these guys are content to rest on their laurels, and only Boyd’s voice on tracks such as Zee Deveel (Blur on speed), Made For TV Movie (a taste of Radiohead‘s My Iron Lung) and Here In My Room (piano-led ballad that Air might wish they had written) will let you know that you are still listening to 1996’s Best Primus Imitation Band.
Purchase the bonus DVD edition and you will find that A Crow Left Of The Murder took only a matter of weeks to complete. Incubus freely admit this is because the end product will (gradually) astound you. Their latest album is home to an hour of solid new music, most of it getting better every time you go back. It’s compelling stuff, and a welcome addition to the burgeoning Incubus back catalogue.