CD review: Incubus’ ‘If Not Now, When?’

Annie Zaleski

The Details

If Not Now, When?
two and a half stars

Incubus has always been hard to categorize. Despite its alternative-rock-god status, the California band doesn’t quite fit in with the metalheads, funk-rockers, stoners or classic-rock revivalists. On the band’s first studio album in five years, If Not Now, When?, this trend continues. Save for the gnarly hip-hop/funk-rock hybrid “Switchblade” and moody single “Adolescents,” the band keeps things mellow—and unorthodox by mainstream-rock standards. In the capable hands of producer Brendan O’Brien, Incubus explores piano-based lounge lazing (the jazz-tinted “Promises, Promises”), rumbling post-rock (“Thieves”), acoustic balladry (the Chris Cornell-like “Defiance”), harmony-laden psych-rock (the Pink Floyd-conjuring “In the Company of Wolves”) and string-zapped, cinematic sculptures (“Tomorrow’s Food”). Offsetting those interesting textures: lagging tempos, amorphous arrangements and mediocre lyrics (see: “I can’t find any shade/But I’ll be swayed as long as I’ve got a switchblade”). What should be an exercise in genre-busting instead sounds like a sleepy, unfocused return.


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