Posted on February 16, 2010 -
Brandon once promised that A Crow Left Of The Murder would be like “melted choclate on your chest and neck.” To many an Incubus faithful, this didn’t hold up. The “old stuff, but older” feel didn’t work the way we wanted it to. It didn’t sound like warm, melty chocolate. It was original, but it wasn’t ground-breaking. It wasn’t a cocoon of awesome. And it made me sad.
Here In My Room was the one-off: The gorgeous, extemporaneous exploration into piano that Mike would sit playing, with a pick in his mouth, because he’s just that awesome and about to start on the guitar solo. Nothing else compared.
But that was then. And Light Grenades is now.
Incubus is an incredible group. Every album has a different flavor, and a different feel. Each song is its own invention, its own destination and each album, the journey. Very, very few bands accomplish this. Fewer still make you pine for more, year after year. Incubus is the quintessential, “professional awesome,” in spades. They’ve evolved with their listeners, they’ve shown their own brilliant growth and they’ve truly gotten better with age.
Quicksand will throw you for a loop as a starting track. It possesses a milquetoast, somber 2:14 look at piano, faded guitar and staple Brandon vocals.
A Kiss To Send Us Off starts with a callback to Final Countdown by Europe. Albeit not intentionally, we’d like to think. It combines a bit of a grunge-feeling intro with a melodic, driven verse. It breaks down into a beautiful, deep bridge that blends back into the chorus perfectly.
Dig is my absolute favorite on the track. It is deep, its message is spot-on, and it gets inside your head, in the best of ways:
“If I turn into another,
Dig me up from under what is covering…
The better part of me.
Sing this song, remind me that we’ll always have each other…
When everything else is gone.”
Its sound is new for Incubus in a way that only Incubus can reinvent themselves. Its melody will resound with you, the dual electric-acoustic guitar, with even more piano laid over it will engulf you. It’s truly gorgeous piece. It’s more substantial than Here In My Room, or Aqueous Transmission, but it still maintains that ethereal, purely beautiful quality to it.
Anna Molly is one you should be well familiar with by now, as it’s the first single from the track. I was fortunate to hear it back in September, when they played here in Tempe. (I believe it was the first stateside performance in 2+ years for them.) It’s an interesting song, but it started to wear on me, through the verse, at least. I’m not sure why, but the lick Mike plays bugs me just a bit. The chorus is great and driven and I love the bridge build up.
Love Hurts. It’s true. More genius guitar work from Mike. Mike’s fantastic in a way that few other guitarists are. He re-invents himself, he makes careful use of a well-selected array of pedals, but he never over-uses any effects. He seems to have the most perfect ear for how he wants to make his guitar sound, and he speaks and it is so. So much flexibility lives in Mike’s execution, and it’s why you’ll never tire of listening to Incubus’ entire catalog from SCIENCE to Make Yourself to Morning View to ACLOTM through Light Grenades. I’m not sure how someone grows from “amazing guitarist” but Mike continues to wow with every new piece. And I tip my hat to that–a constant exercise in incredible creativity, perfect execution and sublime, flowing-over-you-warm-and-tingly music.
Light Grenades: Welcome back to grunge. Incubus always had their roots in some crazy funk-grunge blendings. Enjoy and Fungus show this in spades, and Light Grenades reminds you where they came from. It’s tight, it’s fast, it’s just what you need in the middle of the soft.
Earth To Bella (I) surprises. It starts acoustic, but quickly takes a turn at the chorus. It’s not my favorite, but the chorus and the light… is that an accordion in the background? It works. And I love them for it. Also, kudos to Ben for churning out fantastic background vocals.
Oil and Water, more Mike, more unfettered greatness. I love that each song Incubus produces is a complete thought. It’s what you expect when you put a group of absolute professionals who are in love with what they do in a room for a few hours. It’s that you can see the look on their faces as they built the song, watching things fall into place and catching each and every piece as it came tumbling right where it belongs. A catchy chorus, another good story told, and more of what you love.
Diamonds and Coal. One of these come from the other, and you’ll get that through by the end. Though a bit repetitive, you’ll start to appreciate it. You won’t find people layering two Incubus songs on top of each other to ill-effect. Every track is different. Every song a certain shade of…
Rogues reinforces a bizarre concept becoming more and more clear throughout the cd: Mike wants another guitarist in the band. I’m curious to see how a few of these tracks execute live. It’s a *bit* grunge, but it’s so post-modern, you’ll love it right out of the gate. Brandon has intensity that draws you in, and you’ll find yourself surrendering, just like to the rest of the CD.
Paper Shoes, size 9, and more acoustic. Jose keeps it fresh and fast, and you’ll really appreciate it. More beauty, rather like a bubble bath. Let yourself get wet, kick off your paper shoes.
Pendulous Threads builds for a solid minute into a heap of suspense that pulls through, like a rocket out of the pull of earth. Free of all that noisy atmosphere, watch what happens. Beautiful vocals, claps, and a slight tinge of Minus the Bear, I swear. The chorus is positively SCIENCE-lite, and you’ll love it.
Our last stop, at least for the next few years, is Earth to Bella (II). I dig the chorus… The harmonies are fantastic and it feels like the right way to go out-not with a bang, but with a long, drawn out exhale. The pin’s been put back in, breath easy, let Mike do his thing, and watch them live. It’ll be the best concert you’ll go to.