Sound — 8
If there's one thing that always stands out in an Incubus song, it's the powerful and versatile vocals of Brandon Boyd. The latest release Light Grenades is no exception to this fact, and Brandon demonstrates once again he can make even the weaker songs interesting. That's not to say that the latest CD is that lacking because it is still diverse enough to keep even harsh critics entertained. There are plenty of single-worthy songs on Light Grenades, but Incubus is at it's best when it doesn't sound like the typical radio hit. The opening track Quicksand on the 6th album from Incubus (vocalist Brandon Boyd, guitarist Michael Einziger, drummer Jose Pasillas, turntablist Chris Kilmore, and bassist Ben Kenney) actually is one of most inspired and memorable of Light Grenades. With its acoustic-based intro and Boyd's effect-enhanced vocals that almost sound ghost-like, Quicksand has an experimental feel that never goes overboard. While it will probably never be used as a single because of its unique aspects, it still stands out from all of the other tracks. The first single Anna Molly follows a bit more traditional songwriting format than Quicksand, but it still shows off Boyd's vocal prowess. The verses feature his flawless falsetto, while his unusual phrasing of the title (it sounds more like anomaly) is rather intriguing in itself. There is a fantastic breakdown that feels somewhat like Rage Against The Machine's rhythm section work, and although it comes out of nowhere, it is one of the best moments in the song. It doesn't quite match the passionate oomph heard in Light Grenades -- a song that features Boyd's rapid rap-attack vocals -- but you'll likely be humming Anna Molly for the rest of the night. There are a few songs that feel a bit uninspired in terms of the songwriting, but Boyd still does manage to put all his emotion in his vocals and is able to salvage the songs. Diamonds And Coal is one of the tracks that doesn't really go anywhere that new and gets stuck on a monotonous chorus. The band proves it is capable of much more on tracks like Quicksand, so Diamonds And Coal feels a bit too much like filler material because of it.
Lyrics — 9
Incubus put a lot of creative thought into the lyrics on Light Grenades, and the emotions involved in personal relationships often take center stage. Boyd is completely believable in his delivery, making the words all the more significant. A Kiss To Send Us Off involves an intimate conversation between two lovers, and the title does sum up the gist of it. Boyd sings, Bring your mouth; And selective irreverence; We'll both see stars, just; One more tongue kiss before; The sky it falls. The descriptive nature of lyrics like one more tongue kiss makes the song incredibly memorable. The friendship theme of Dig is lyrically reminiscent to Red Hot Chili Peppers' Knock Me Down in terms of a picking up a pal when they're involved in a self-destructive situation. Boyd sings, So when my weakness turns my ego up; I know you'll count on the me from yesterday; If I turn into another; Dig me up from under what is covering. The song represents just one example of the interesting ways Incubus delves into relationships on Light Grenades.
Overall Impression — 8
If it's possible, Boyd sounds better than ever. The heartfelt emotion that Boyd does inject is often able to make up for the moments when the CD might lag, and listeners will be able to appreciate the vocal delivery when all else fails. Light Grenades once again delves different sounds and effects with the help of turntable master Chris Kilmore, and Incubus wisely uses those extras to enhance and not overtake the CD. Incubus dips into a lot of different musical genres, and that chameleon aspect has always been a big appeal. Light Grenades continues this trend and has a good number of memorable songs, most of which do sound atypical to radio singles. Quicksand and Light Grenades are extreme opposites in terms of tempo, but they both don't sound like anything else that's out there. And when the band does dare to be different, that's when there is the biggest payoff.