All Incubus Albums Ranked
Brandon Boyd and company recently announced a brand-new album and tour. To tide us fans over until “8” is released this spring, let’s rank all of their past works.
Honorable Mention: Trust Fall (Side A), Stealth Soundtrack, Enjoy Incubus, and When Incubus Attacks Vol. 1
Incubus has had some oddball releases over the years. From the busted promise of multiple Trust Fall releases to them piloting (pun intended) the soundtrack to a completely forgotten Jessica Biel movie, each of these releases have a spark to them that none of their proper releases have. They may not be Incubus faves, but they need to be mentioned.
#9 Fungus Amongus
Ah, the awkward indie debut. So many bands have that one album that no one remembers and was never actually good. Fungus Amongus has a handful of fun songs, but for a band that’s desperately trying to find its sound, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Primus influences are too pronounced for that to really happen. The previously mentioned Enjoy Incubus had some cleaned up versions of Fungus Amongus songs, and ultimately those versions explain their transition into S.C.I.E.N.C.E., a vastly improved second attempt.
#8 A Crow Left of the Murder
Its odd for a band hit their sophomore slump 5 albums in, but Crow feels exactly like a band that’s ready to grow but is unsure of where its going. The singles “Megalomaniac” and “Talk Shows on Mute” are really the only truly inspired tracks on the album. The rest of Crow is a muddy attempt at departing from the sound that Make Yourself and Morning View had so much success with. At the time, Crow felt like the beginning of the end. That was it, Incubus had peaked like Pearl Jam or Bush and would coast into obscurity. It wasn’t until Light Grenades, that it became clear what Crow was trying to accomplish. Maybe it was the influence of new Bassist Ben Kenney, or the exhaustion of almost 10 years on the scene, but A Crow Left of the Murder was a disappointment, across the board.
#7 Monuments and Melodies (Disc 2)
I know Monuments and Melodies Disc 1 shouldn’t count as its a “best of” compilation, and I will stand behind that firmly. However, its Disc 2 has enough of an argument to give it a solid leg on which to stand. As a collection of B-sides Rarities and one-offs, Monuments has some strong tracks. Not only are songs like “Look Alive”, “Martini” and “While All the Vulture Feed” good listens, but they should be in the conversation when you’re discussing the best of Incubus. Not to mention the dynamite closer, a cover of the Prince classic “Let’s Go Crazy”. Its a hodgepodge mix of tracks that may not catch your ear the first time, but if I’m choosing an Incubus album to which to listen, there’s a good chance its going to be Monuments Disc 2.
#6 If Not Now, When?
When “If Not Now. When?” was released it was a markedly different album than those that came before it. There was less focus on Enzinger’s guitar prowess, and a deliberate side-step of the alt/rock with which they made their name. Consisting mainly of mid to slow tempo-ed earthy tracks that marinate in their delivery, “When” has become the most contentious release for fans. As for the album itself, its a perfectly serviceable release, with enough great songs to keep it from dragging down their catalog. Boyd and Co., were already veterans at righting solid ballads, but this album has an almost pretentious undertone to it. By being a slower album, Incubus seems had chosen to take the “high-road” into the next chapter of their career. It carries a real “we’re too good for metal” vibe to it. Maybe that’s just me projecting onto it, but ultimately, I think its good, but at times, uncomfortable.
Here’s where things get fishy. Ask me to rank Incubus’ albums any day of the week and these top four might be in a completely different order. However, after careful consideration with both tangible and emotional reasoning, I think S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is next. With carrer highlights like “A Certain Shade of Green”, “Vitamin”, “Deep Inside” and “Summer Romance”, their major label debut holds a special place in my heart. Being lumped in with nu-metal bands like Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit and Korn, didn’t help S.C.I.E.N.C.E.’s commercial performance, but it did allow them to emerge from a shady and oft-mocked corner of the industry. I imagine that new listeners who entered the fold with If Not Now, When? listen to S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and their ears bleed. As much as I love these songs, I can acknowledge that they haven’t aged as well as their other albums and I’m okay with it hitting #4 on my list. On a serious note, if you have never heard S.C.I.E.N.C.E. do so now. You may not like it, or even find it too recklessly ambitious, but you owe it to yourself to hear young Incubus in the raw.
#3 Make Yourself
As a breakout album, Make Yourself is as close to perfect as your gonna get. Its got 2-3 mega hits, a huge bank of relate-able/catchy songs and album art that fits the tone of the band, era and sound. It’s hard to say anything bad about Make Yourself. It solidified what their trademark sound would be, and created a baseline from which to grow. Make yourself is so much more than “Drive” and “Stellar”, and the sound they created with it is still unique to this day. There’s a confidence to the songs here, that most bands can’t muster. Rather than staying in the lane they picked with S.C.I.E.N.C.E., they chose to carve their own way out of the nu-metal doldrums. I guess the album title is fitting. If I were to describe something as “Vanilla-Incubus”, it would be Make Yourself and that’s where it falls short of the top two spots. As amazing as the tracks like “I Miss You”, “Privilege” and “The Warmth” are, they don’t raise the bar like tracks on the #’s 1 and 2. Ironically, Make Yourself is the bar of which they are raising with later.
#2 Light Grenades
Coming off the disappointment of A Crow Left of the Murder, I wasn’t even sure what to expect from its follow up. Then the odd Anna Molly was the first single and it didn’t ease my worries. In the end, Grenades turned out to be quite an adventure. Everything from the furious “Rogues” to the better-than-“Drive” ballad “Dig” proves that this album is not only Incubus at their most well oiled and ready to rock album, but also puts into perspective the growth that was happening on Crow. I consider Light Grenades the butterfly to Crow’s cocoon. The stylistic changes from Crow are still there, but Grenades perfects the sound. Each track is Incubus reaching for something they haven’t done before and each track is them succeeding. “Love Hurts”, “Diamonds and Coal”, and “Oil and Water” are all songs that I probably wouldn’t like had they been written by other bands, but Incubus pulls them off and makes them highlights of a great album.
#1 Morning View
Morning View sees Incubus completely maturing out of their S.C.I.E.N.C.E., eccentricities and into a capable and beautiful tight-knit group that knows their sound. The experimentation on Morning, sounds effortless and less gimmicky than their previous efforts. It proves that Make Yourself wasn’t a fluke and supplied us with the classics “Blood on the Ground”, “Just a Phase” and “11 am” and those weren’t even singles. Their high energy tracks like, “Circles” and “Nice to Know You” balance the off the rails delivery with carefully crafted power-rifts and are ultimately flawless in their execution. The whole experience culminates with “Aqueous Transmission”, a beautiful departure from rock, funk, hip-hop or even pop-music, as Enzinger picks up a Kokyū to record the most serene track in the Incubus library. The key to Morning View’s lasting appeal is its subtle groove and self-awareness. The songs get out of their own way and listening to it is effortless. The weirdest part, is that even though its the best album in their discography I wouldn’t suggest anyone start their Incubus journey with it. Morning View is best understood, once you have a context for what the band has to offer.
We can only hope that their upcoming album, 8, is as good as their past work. Needless to say, I’m ready for new stuff and the new single “Nimble Bastard” is a good start.