8 review by Incubus

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  • Released: Apr 21, 2017
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 6 Neat
  • Users' score: 6 (30 votes)
Incubus: 8
3

Sound — 6
One can't reminisce about the days when people still primarily listened to music on the radio without recalling least three Incubus songs. But having been nearly twenty years since the California quintet's breakthrough period of 1999's "Make Yourself" and 2001's "Morning View," Incubus have been less active as of recently. After 2006's "Light Grenades" brought a few more smash hits to the band's successful catalog, it would take five years to follow it up with "If Not Now, When?," where Incubus traded off some of their tried-and-true alt rock qualities in favor of a more ballad-driven pop rock vibe, which didn't resonate as much as their material from the decade before.

Once again, Incubus took their time to release new music after 2011, but that recent activity has shown them heading back to their alt rock ways. Their 2015 EP, "Trust Fall (Side A)," wielded more guitar power in its four tracks than "If Not Now, When?" did in its eleven tracks. But while their initial plan of releasing a series of EPs never made it past the first one, the EP did indeed forecast what was to come.

Now on their eighth album, "8," Incubus mix in a few new things with the familiar sound of their heyday. Despite the widely publicized news that Skrillex helped produce the album leading to predictions that Incubus would attempt dubstep rock a la Korn, Skrillex's electronica influence only comes in passive amounts, like the extra dash of sub-bass added in the middle-gear alt rocker "State of the Art," and the contemporary pop rock ballad "Loneliest." Mike Einziger also taps into a bluesy demeanor with his guitar, whether in the soft likes of "Make No Sound In The Digital Forest," or the loud blues rock fuzz in "Love in a Time of Surveillance," but more than anything, the band bring back the alt rock guitar distortion that powered "Morning View" and "A Crow Left of the Murder" in songs like "No Fun," "Nimble Bastard," and "Throw Out the Map."

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But even though Incubus recalibrate back to their alt rock home range, "8" doesn't feel like the band is applying itself to their best capabilities. Einziger's guitar playing doesn't reach for the skillful heights he set in "A Crow Left of the Murder" or "Light Grenades," Chris Kilmore's role as the turntablist/keyboard player feels very back-seated, and while his vocal power is still a force to be reckoned with, Brandon Boyd's melodies can be hit or miss (compare the strong hook in "Undefeated" to the nasaly one in "Glitterbomb"). Furthermore, the band's choice of writing every song in a standard 4/4 measurement comes much less ambitious compared to the trickier songs they're written in nearly all of their prior albums.

Lyrics — 7
Boyd's lyrics in "8," while not adhering to a traditional concept, are connected by revolving around a theme of naiveté. This is most obvious in Boyd's moments of romance gone awry ("I was your friend and ended up a victim" in "Glitterbomb"; "I'm inspired by your proposition but I don't trust my intuition" in "Loneliest"; "But love is like a blind archer / Trying to shoot an apple off my head" in "Undefeated"), though he also critiques the foolishness of an inescapable digital world in "Love in a Time Of Surveillance" ("Love in a time of surveillance / Is in such a fuss at the Voyeurs-R-Us"), as well as admonishing fresh faces in the pop music scene in "State of the Art" ("You're new, you're young, your blissful ignorance / Is everything they like / But the years have teeth / And sometimes they bite"). And while most of these cases read like curses, Boyd also indulges the cases where naiveté can be a blessing, from cherishing failure as a necessary step for growth in "Nimble Bastard" ("I gotta trip before I can see the finish / How else would I learn?"), to enjoying the rush of flying by the seat of your pants in "Throw Out the Map" ("I want to lose my mind / I want to shed my skin / Dive into the deep end head first").

Overall Impression — 5
Given how their previous album and its direction was received, "8" is a clear reaction to that by going back to the style Incubus know better. But while the album certainly succeeds in its goal of throwing down loud and energetic alt rock, "8" only backpedals to the band's fundamental sound, and doesn't really make another step forward. Because of this, it's hard not to feel the album's output being a weaker emulation of the band's sound in its prime over a decade ago, and leaves much to be desired.

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31 comments sorted by best / new / date

    GR84
    Good review, i enjoyed reading it, you know your Incubus it seems.  My favorite Incubus album is and probably always will be Make Yourself - it's near perfect. I was in the minority i think on their last release however, If Not Now When, I was actually impressed with that work (not perfect but interesting), it was more mellow and it hit at a time when i was listening to more mellow stuff so it clicked more i think. Anyway that being said, i attempted to listen to this album, and while certainly not bad, it just feels like Incubus don't have that same fire and desire, to me it sounds like a album recorded to record an album, not because there was such good music flowing from their sessions, nothing really sounds essential here. I respect the heck out of Incubus, so i'm not saying this out of spite, more just a little disappointment that i'm struggling to connect or hear anything out of the ordinary 
    randallmasseth
    As a fan from the start I think this is a decent album and would rate it a 7. Familiar faces is my breakout song of this album. Yes it's not their best but I feel like they really don't need anything to prove and even though it's not their best it's still solid. I do agree I liked were side A was going with trust fall and absolution calling but I actually just add all those 4 songs on to my 8 playlist and it fits in perfectly
    estabon37
    This may be a dumb question, as I haven't had a chance to listen to '8' yet, but do you just add 'Trust Fall' onto the end, or do you think the songs fit well amongst the album's tracks? I ask because I used to love adding B-Sides to albums back in the days of cassettes (yeah, I know I'm old). If an album was perfect as it was, the songs were added to the end of the tape after a gap (like secret / bonus songs on a CD). If an album was lagging, then I'd insert the best B-Sides wherever the album felt like it needed a pickup. Trust Fall was such a good EP, it's a shame it didn't wind up having any companion EPs. 
    randallmasseth
    Just mixed them in on a shuffle setting. There are spots in this album where I thought they could've done more. Loneliest is one I felt could've used a psycadellic instrumental like company of wolves at the tail end. Yes trust fall ep was amazing and believe just fits better with 8 as I'm sure some of the songs from 8 was meant to be in there 2nd so they said was coming that never did. Here's a good way to veiw this album as a incubus fan and to all the people who say it's garbage. Just listen to the first song and repeat chorus " hey your no fun, your no fun, your a song I never want to hear again".
    Guitarstrumn
    Reviewer's Score: 6?!?!?! Did we even listen to the same album?!  Maybe one or two songs the ladder half of the album weren't perfect, but I thought overall it was a heck of a listen. Just because it's not Mastodon (which was EPIC) doesn't mean this wasn't at least solid.
    vppark2
    Ever heard of an opinion before? Bc I personally think this album is boring as hell.
    rufizonfire
    Yep, felt really let down after 2 listens of the whole album. Disappointing. Accurate review here though.
    hayes262
    agreed. I've always given incubus time for their new record to sink after it comes out, but this one just isnt doing it for me yet
    awmr1987
    Nimble Bastard, State of the Art, Familiar Faces, Undefeated, Glitterbomb and Make No Sound in the Digital Forest are pretty great songs IMO.
    shwilly
    First listening: didn't like it 2nd and 3rd listenings: really grew on me Then after the fourth one it all started sounding dull so I'm now at the point where it's perhaps best to let the whole thing simmer, then come back to it in a while with fresh ears. Can't remember the last time I dissected a new release this thoroughly so there's obviously something in there. There's a couple of saucy riffs on this one, but as a 'guitar' record it's not especially remarkable (although Digital Forest is quite nice, I must say) I'm curious where this one'll end up on my scale of appreciation. People like me tend to rate new material by artists they like by the weakest songs on those releases. As a result every record of theirs since Crow felt a bit or even quite disappointing at first. Now I can't picture my life without some Anna Molly to brighten up my day :p
    xeper9
    In my opinion, this is the band's best work since Morning View. I wasn't too hot on the singles they've released but the album as a whole just works so well. Also, "No Fun" is the most kickass Incubus song since the Make Yourself days.
    jasperado
    fungus amongus is the only incubus album i can still listen to all the way through.  science and morning view are next best but they go downhill from there, unless you like overproduced and radio friendly sounds then you might like it.
    Zero_Sound
    Big props to Dave Sardy/Skrillex for bringing them out of the boring lull Brendan Obrien had them in. As a huge fan i felt the last two outputs were really lacking both in energy and creativity. Really surprised by the lack of solos by Mike but everything else is outstanding.
    derJones636
    it's just boring. like everything that came after S.C.I.E.N.C.E. not bad, but just boring.
    a drummer
    While I personally think s.c.i.e.n.c.e. is their best...that's pretty much saying Make Yourself and ACLOTM were boring and that's crazy.
    BentheScrivener
    Personally I think this is Incubus' worst album. I'm a big fan but genuinely think this isn't as good as their other stuff. I see a lot of people applauding Skrillex's production but for me that's what kills this album off. It's to clean and tidy and most of all too safe. At least the lighter tracks from If not now....When felt slightly unique and felt like Incubus, where as the lighter tracks on 8 feel like their aimed at a poppy audience (other critics have compared to Ed Sheeran I mean Jesus) and there if nothing special per se (even INNW had 'Company of Wolves'. I'm not even one of those "nothing after S.C.I.E.N.C.E." haters and my favourite album is either Morning View or A Crow Left of the Murder, I'm just not feeling the sound on this album. Who knows, my opinion could change after a few more listens or a hit of acid. 
    anthsband
    As a huge Incubus fan I am in the middle of this album. It's just "meh." I feel like half of it has a Make Yourself feel to it and the other half a INNW feel. 
    GoToSleep
    Sigh...the music on this is as bland and dull as the album title. I think Incubus is done, I mean unless they come back with a really great late career album, I just think their good stuff is at least a decade in the past and isn't coming back.
    awmr1987
    This is a good review. I would have rated it somewhere between 7.5 and 8. Seems like they're conflicted with trying to make similar music to what they did in the 90s. Contrastingly, it also seems like they tried to recreate some of the vibe on their last full length. It's like they wanted to take what they are now and blend it together with what they were trying to be on their last record. Overall, I think this is their best effort since "light grenades". I personally liked it more so. Brandon's voice is still amazing and this might be one of my favorite albums vocally. Some very catchy parts on this album.
    YanUder
    INNW was the first Incubus album I didn't love from start to finish, but I really liked Trust Fall Side A. It seemed like a return to form (at least from the perspective of someone whose favorite album is ACLOTM). I was really looking forward to what side B or C might bring, but sadly I'm very underwhelmed by 8.  I'm hoping subsequent listens will allow it to grow on me. To an extent I think my judgement is warped by reading Mike Einziger promoting this a heavier album, and getting something relatively vanilla instead. Not that I don't appreciate chill Incubus just as much or more than heavy Incubus. I just began to expect something very different than what I got. Them preconceived notions doh.
    Hiddenelegy
    It all just makes me miss the raw, dirtiness of SCIENCE, wish we could have gotten a couple more albums from the more in your face times as sadly this and the previous few albums just dont do it for me. On the other hand props to them for keeping it going and continuing to release material that matures with them.
    redhotsexmagic
    I've only gotten to give this one listen all the way through but I liked what I heard so far.  Honestly I think theres some merit in having to give an album a few listens and let it grow on you. I wasn't really feeling If Not Now When" on the first listen or two but that is truly a fantastic album all the way through and I think it holds up very well against the rest of their catalogue.  Looking forward to listening to 8 and bit more.
    hansklaus
    4-6 Points seem like a very good rating to me. The band was never really good, they were just mainstream enough to have a big audience. There is nothing exciting going on, on the record, but it could be worse...much worse.