Incubus 8 Reviewed

Incubus’ new album came out and I’m finding it hard to describe why it’s not resonating with me. On paper, it should be right up my alley, but something about 8 makes it feel like a degraded facsimile of past Incubus classics.

Talking about Incubus is not a new thing here at Reality Breached. A few months ago, I ranked all of their past works as a refresher for the release of 8. In that retrospective, the growth of the band is clear. Six years ago, when If Not Now, When? came out Incubus had drifted into a slower lane that felt a tad bit forced, but also signified a growth that wasn’t all that surprising or bad. Arguably, outside of “Switchblade”, the low points of their 7th album were the up-tempo rockers.

Now Boyd, Einziger, Pasillas, Kilmore, and Kenney, aged 6 more years, are reaching back to a younger, louder, more 2006 version of themselves to, I don’t know, show that they’ve still got it? The result is a muddy direction-lacking album, that seems to experiment for experiment’s sake. 8 has some big tracks but also some solid slower melodic numbers. “No Fun” kicks the doors open and tracks like “Nimble Bastard”, “Loneliest” and “Familiar Faces” really carry the middle into an increasingly unfocused pair of closing tracks.

8 is a good album, with a couple of great songs, with “State of the Art” being the absolute best. It’s inoffensive and plays it safe enough to not really bother Incubus fans. Unfortunately, regardless of how good these songs are, they don’t break new ground and pale in comparison to the similar tracks from Incubus’ library.

Each album they have released has a distinct sound to it, and while all their previous albums felt like a step forward, 8 is the first one that feels like a step backwards. Sonically it falls somewhere between the Stealth Soundtrack songs and Light Grenades, which adds a strange nostalgic charm to the album. However, If I want nostalgic charm, I’ll listen to the new New Found Glory. I don’t want ANOTHER Light Grenades, I want the NEXT Light Grenades.

My primary gripe with the whole album is its stunning problem with loudness and clipping. Much like Boyd’s solo album The Wild Trapeze (which is almost unlistenable because of loudness issues) 8 sees everything from guitars to percussion hitting the loudness threshold. Its a problem I did not see coming and taints the listening experience across the board. I don’t know how a producer and/or mixer let’s this get out the door without someone pointing out the needless distortion. Maybe the band likes that sound, I don’t know, but I simply can’t not hear it and that bothers me.

8 started as Trust Fall (Side B) and sadly, I think it would have benefited from remaining the second half of an EP. At least 4 tracks can easily be chopped from the listing here and after a harsh sophie’s choice, and a conversion of a couple tracks into “Bonus” tracks, 8 could have rounded out an amazing EP. Instead it will probably be a largely forgotten collection of songs that don’t go much of anywhere.

Verdict: It’s probably as good as If Not Now, When?, but It’s hard to respect it nearly as much.

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