A review on Incubus’ 8th full album about the down side of love, simply titled 8.
Since 1991, Incubus has been a staple of the alternative rock scene with platinum selling albums, #1 debuts, massive touring schedules and a legion of swooning fans. Outside of a small break in the late 2000’s, Incubus has consistently been performing and presenting new albums and Eps every several years with mostly positive praise. Now in 2017 comes the band’s 8th full album simply titled 8. While you can expect surprised including a song featuring Skrillex who co-produced the album, 8 is planning on being an album about the darker and lonelier side of live. Written out of personal experiences and the overall concept, 8 intend to be a bit personal and moody.
When asked specifically why this the direction for the 8th full album from Incubus, Brandon Boyd made a great statement saying: “We live in dark times, my friend. So what we’re doing as artists is acting as a mirror to culture here and there and hopefully offering little glimmers of hope through the joy in music we all have.” While alt rock albums about love aren’t exactly new territory, I have to admit I like the idea of 41-year-old Brandon Boyd writing about his own experiences of trying to make things work in a relationship but not being able to. It’s not the typical “Love Hurts’ fair as it gives a more specific dynamic than the typical fair of teenagers in love and not caring who else knows about it.
As new music started filtering out from the new Incubus album we were given several songs from the upcoming 11 track 8. “Nimble Bastard” was the first of those released preview tracks and definitely has an energy behind it. Even if not resembling much of the overall theme that was previously mentioned, it works as a single and offers a memorable hook in the chorus with the song title. The first half of this song feels strong and energetic with the verses offering a good groove along with Boyd’s delivery of not getting too loud but just sounding like he’s having fun. It has an upbeat feeling. This song along with “No Fun” the opening track which also feels energetic begins 8 on a bit of a lighthearted note before the real theme kicks in and deeper lyrics start to take effect.
In past albums like S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and Make Yourself, you got a sense of creativity and heard a strong delivery from everyone playing. As time has gone on past A Crow Left Of Murder it has felt like more of a safer predictable style of performing and going through the motions of what people expect. That is how 8 feels after the first two tracks. As the album goes on you feel a steady pulse and rhythm that stays the course. There is meaning here and you can tell that there is effort in getting these emotions across, but there also is a strong feeling of the cruise control being turned on and just steadily going through the motions. It’s not so much a desire to create something new as it is getting said message across in the same format that has already been tested.
The song “Glitterbomb” another song that was released early is probably the best example of what to expect through much of the album. There are definitely good lines like “I was once your friend and ended up your victim.”, but the stretched guitar riffs and isolated drumming makes it feel longer than the track actually is. It drags, and it’s not the only song on 8 that has this feeling. Songs like “Familiar Faces”, “Loneliest” and “Love In A Time of Surveillance” have a good flow and well written lyrics but there is no real appeal to listen again after they are over. The track “Make No Sound In the Digital Forest” is a good instrumental track but also doesn’t add much overall to the album. Taking away a good instrumental track, “No Fun” and “Nimble Bastard”, then isn’t much to really hook the listener.
The intention of the album and writing about past experiences in love and friendship is admirable, but this feels like Incubus going through the motions as opposed to really delivering something invigorating. While NOTHING on here is a chore to listen to, it’s also lacking in excitement. The music from Incubus makes you wish you were listening to a previous Incubus album instead. Overall, 8 has a refined focus and strong lyrics but falls short when really connecting it with flat lining music. It definitely will satisfy longtime Incubus fans but it may not do much to win over new listeners who are hoping for more of the sound in “Nimble Bastard”. It’s a good attempt in theme but ultimately leaves you wishing for more variety and something to remember.