Sound — 7
Incubus' first album since 2006's "Light Grenades" (although one could argue that 2009's "Monuments And Melodies" had enough unreleased material to be considered a standard album on its own), it is essentially free of any of the "heavier" tracks every previous Incubus album has come to offer. Guitarist Mike Einziger had this to say: "Over the years, we've become less and less aggressive as far as our music goes. There's always moments of that aggression, but this album is pretty free of that". He hit the nail on the head - this is the Incubus you would blare outside of the girl (or guy?) you love's house at 2 a.m. Through a black boombox. I mean this in both good and bad ways; as far as albums go, this is the most emotionally consistent. However, as an album, it falls short fairly fast, and by track 5 I was pretty bored with it. Of course, Incubus can do no wrong by my standards, and the album is by no means listenable. However, it wasn't until the second part of "In The Company Of Wolves" that I became truly interested in the album again: the album changes pace quickly during the transition on this song to a very dark, almost bluesy feel. "Switchblade", the next track on the album, is an upbeat, fast-paced catchy song that immediately becomes one of the highlights of the album, with its almost Prince-like qualities. The penultimate and first single off the album, "Adolescents" returns to the original sound of the first tracks, but the interesting guitar work that Mike Einziger creates causes this track to stand out more than the others. The final track, "Tomorrow's Food", ends the album in the same way it started - good, but nothing I consider special, and definitely not up to par with the previous Incubus albums.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrically, the album falls short in many ways. Brandon Boyd has always been a personal favorite lyricist of mine, but his witty, philosophic lyrics have been replaced by sappy, slightly cliched love analogies. What's worse is, at times they feel like they don't fit in quite right with the melodies, especially in "Friends And Lovers", where he sings "Because in the end, we are friends and lovers"; it feels forced, and it shows. "Defiance" is one of the better tracks lyrically: "And there's an absence today of defiance / a most awaken inclination / and your elegant aberration" (This all-acoustic track also feels the most like older Incubus, notably 2001's "Morning View"). "In The Company Of Wolves" also stands out as a strong example that Boyd isn't done writing great lyrics; "Infinity it falls, in feathery folds but she bites like loveless eyes / but with her belly full she called this rite of passage / it was the longest night of my life", although a huge part of it is how the line is delivered. None of the lyrics in any of the songs are "bad", far from it in fact, but the listener won't quite feel as challenged by the writing as they would come to expect from Incubus.
Overall Impression — 7
As a fan of Incubus since 1997's "S.C.I.E.N.C.E.", I have watched Incubus grow, trying out multiple genres of music. They have a sound all their own, yet always seem to be experimenting and trying new things. "If Not Now, When?" is no exception, and although the album drags on at times, there are still memorable tracks, the big standouts being "In The Company Of Wolves", "Switchblade", and "Defiance". Unfortunately, there are no real heavy jams that have shown up in all albums prior to this one, and the lyrics feel sub-par compared to his other works (perhaps because they focus on one emotion, "love", more than any other, causing it to appear redundant by the 5th or 6th track). "In The Company Of Wolves" and "Switchblade" change up the tone in the final stretch of the album, but I can't help feel that the album is just a bit too monotonous. Still a pretty decent album.