Written by: PP on 29/10/2017 18:55:54

For all the criticism that Incubus' eighth album "8" has received - their first one in six years - I for one think it's a refreshing return to form, an album that resembles most of all their masterpiece, "A Crow Left Of The Murder...". Now, "8" might not be quite up there quality-wise, but its return to a heavier form of experimental alternative rock after the rather boring and uninspiring "If Not Now, When?" (2011) and the decent but forgettable "Light Grenades" (2006) is exactly what their fans have been craving for.

Opener "No Fun", is groovy and echoes their 90s albums that were centerpieces within the golden years of alternative rock. Crunchy guitars and a dirty, almost raw production are a surprise from a band that has sounded rather polished as of late. The higher tempo "Nimble Bastard" is a punk-fueled anthem with a huge chorus that makes it the best Incubus track in at least a decade, if not longer. What's more, it even has a signature-style Incubus guitar solo drenched in experimental screeching effects. In contrast, "State Of The Art" opts for a loftier sound with a balladic chorus, but even here the band feels heavier than on, say, "Are You In" just to draw an obvious comparison.

Curiously enough, Brandon Boyd's voice is less in focus on "8" than on any Incubus album since their debut album. Fewer displays of awe-inspiring control over range and skill, more focus on adding on experimental twists to the guitars and overall soundscape. In that sense, the album falls somewhere right in between the straight-up alternative rock classic "Make Yourself" and the aforementioned "A Crow Left Of The Murder..." on the experimentation scale. "Glitterbomb" is a perfect example: not as wild and unique as "Pistola", but so much more depth than, say, "Privilege" or "Stellar" from that album.

In other words, the album is more about guitars and instruments this time around, more about an ambitious, explorative soundscape where Boyd's vocals are an instrument on equal footing with the rest. "Undefeated" is another great example where his voice gets its moment to shine in an echoing soundscape, but the backing pianos, the high-flying and purposefully faded-back guitars all help to craft a special sound that few other bands can match. Likewise, "Familiar Faces" is a signature Incubus track from their later years with its experimental, effects-laden style coupled with an infectious chorus. What the odd 56-second interlude "When I Become A Man" is doing on the album, however, is lost on me, as it doesn't serve any real purpose.

On "8", Incubus are still living in a world of their own, sounding like a band that few, if any others sound like. "8" seems them explore yet another stylistic corner in their vast musical universe that's never been restrained into conventional boxes or prone to pigeonholing, this time finding itself somewhere between fan-favorites "A Crow Left Of The Murder" and "Make Yourself", which should tell you all you need to know about the record. That said, it's a grower so you'll need to give it quite a few listens to absorb it fully.


Download: Nimble Bastard, No Fun, Undefeated, Familiar Faces
For the fans of: Foo Fighters, The Smashing Pumpkins, Cage 9
Listen: Facebook

Release date 21.04.2017
Island Records

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