An incubus is a male demon who has intercourse with women while they sleep, or who arouses sexual desire in women that only he, the demon lover, can satiate. In earthly terms, Incubus is a twenty-year old Californian rock band that’s sold over 13 million albums worldwide. If Not Now, When? is the sixth studio album from the group, who formed when they were still at high school and have gone on to fulfil all their teenage dreams. Produced by Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Bob Dylan), the album is recorded as expertly as you’d expect, with the great thwacking drum sounds, soaring guitars and Boyd’s emotional vocals all getting their own space to shine.
As is only appropriate for a bunch of thirty-somethings, Incubus have developed their sound and have thus avoided falling into the Metallica trap. However their move away from their more grungy, hard-rock roots means they are now walking the tightrope between genuine maturity and M.O.R “dad rock”, with wobbly results.
The rather protracted album includes eleven new tracks (one over seven minutes long) and six bonus tracks (most recorded at Chile’s ‘Concert for the Miners’ in October 2010). Opening track If Not Now, When? begins with the thrill of a beat that’d be great to strut down the street to, but never quite delivers on its potential. Promises, Promises is the kind of song that will have people reaching for their lighters, but it’s hard to imagine anyone singing along to the much-repeated “we are friends… and lovers” line on the next track. (All that sighing and heavy breathing would also be difficult to emulate.)
The next songs traverse pop, punk and hardcore before the very odd In The Company of Wolves, which begins as a ballad, but halfway through turns into… an embarrassing cover of Porishead’s Sour Times? After this, the simple and up-tempo Switchblade is a welcome respite, before Tomorrow’s Food brings things down a notch with its ill-advised foray into philosophy (“we are all tomorrow’s food… today”).
It’s when the bonus tracks kick in that the album really picks up. Hit song Megalomaniac sounds great with the energy of a crowd clapping and screaming, and the slow ballad Dig is particularly poignant with thousands of people singing along.
On If Not Now, When? Incubus emerges as a less intelligent, better looking version of U2. The perfect background album for a Hallensteins store, this incubus isn’t the kind to inspire insatiable passion that’ll leave you begging for more… so don’t leave it in your CD player overnight in case it’s the other kind.
Kathryn van Beek www.joyriderpromotions.co.nz
Click here to listen to In The Company Of Wolves from If Not Now, When?: