Lo and behold, and joy be among men, the new Incubus album descends to earth, and that’s not even sarcasm. After three years, Light Grenades is unleashed on an unsuspecting populace. After the ‘what-the-hell-is-this-rubbish’ disappointment of A Crow Left Of The Murder, have Incubus returned to the level of Alt-metal demi-gods?
As soon as I heard about this album I was sceptical. This is the first Incubus album I haven’t waited for with baited breath, in fact it only came onto my radar a few weeks ago. My personal love affair with this band started many years ago when I was a mere sapling. Rifling through a friend’s CD collection I chanced upon S.C.I.E.N.C.E and was blown away. That album nurtured me through my teenage years and remains, to this day, one of the finest examples of alt-metal and all round stunning musicality.
As they garnered mainstream success, Incubus took on a more popular rock sound, producing commercially viable music but still retaining they’re own twist of originality. They peaked with 2001s Morning View and the huge success of single Wish You Were Here. What followed was a long legal battle with their record label and the (in my opinion) disastrous departure of original Bass player Alex Katunich. Now, call me a purist, because I am, but I was disappointed with 2003s A Crow Left Of The Murder, it just didn’t seem like the band I used to know and love.
So when I sat down and listened to the new album I wasn’t expecting much, and on the first hearing I thought my theory had been proved right. Incubus had devolved into a boring sell-out, pandering soft pop-rock to young girls. However, when I removed my sceptics glasses and opened my eyes I began to realise that there is so much more to this record. These are actual songs, in the vein of Make Yourself and the better half of Morning View. Whatever teething problems they may have been experiencing with new bassist Ben Kenney, it all seems to have been resolved.
If we ignore the strange and pointless opener of Quicksand then the raucous would-be opener A Kiss to Send Us Off starts the album in spectacular old school riffing style. Of course there’s the trademark Brandon-esque vocals, replete with soaring and sighing melodies, but lets face it, you’d be disappointed if it was any different. Other notable songs include Rogues and new single Anna Molly which lodges itself in the listeners brain and doesn’t let go, think Pardon Me or The Warmth.
Also worthy of mention is title track Light Grenades. A frenetic and punchy punk infused number that is equal parts classic Incubus and experimental originality. DJ Kilmore is especially impressive with an inspired selection of samples that bulk out the sound, adding an extra dimension.
Of course, this is far from a perfect album, the Earth To Bella songs being an obvious example of bore inducing song smithery. But it marks an important step for Incubus, both backwards and forwards at the same time, if that makes any sense at all. This is a good thing, as fans who have been frustrated with recent output will be able to find a lot to like here.