PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Incubus: Light Grenades

Light Grenades might actually be the album that could make people stop wishing that Incubus was the band it used to be.


Incubus

Light Grenades

Label: Sony
US Release Date: 2006-11-28
UK Release Date: 2006-11-27
Amazon
iTunes

My own reaction on hearing that Incubus's latest release Light Grenades hit #1 on the Billboard 200:

"Wait, what? There's a new Incubus album out?"

Like many of the fans that once brought Incubus to prominence on the modern rock charts, I used to think of an upcoming Incubus release as a big deal -- maybe this will be the album on which they return to the glory days, the days of S.C.I.E.N.C.E., the days when they were as adventurous as they were talented. These were the days when they thrashed as much as they emoted, the days when jazz showed up as often as hip-hop, elements augmented onto a breakneck rock/metal sound with an incredibly talented smoothed-out Mike Patton-wannabe vocalist tacked onto the top of it all. It was a formula, and not a particularly original one, really, but when that formula is churning out classics like "Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)" and the utterly brilliant "Nebula", it's obviously producing something worthwhile.

Of course, things took a decidedly mainstream (not to mention decidedly ordinary) turn with Make Yourself, and the wait for the new S.C.I.E.N.C.E. began. And the wait continued when Morning View was released. By the time A Crow Left of the Murder arrived, it had become awfully obvious that waiting for the next S.C.I.E.N.C.E. was going to be as futile as waiting for the next Joltin' Joe-level hit streak -- not in this lifetime, kids.

As if to provide a happy sort of closure, Incubus has returned with comparatively little fanfare (no current wave of fame, no lead single controversy) with Light Grenades, a surprisingly solid album that also happened to top Billboard's album charts in its first week of release. As if to symbolize the canyon-esque drop in exposure the band has received compared to their moment in the sun, the album dropped from #1 to #37 in only its second week on the big chart.

Ouch.

It's a shame, too, because Light Grenades might actually be the album that could make people stop wishing that Incubus was the band it used to be. There's a renewed fire in the songwriting here, a rejuvenated sound that manages to not get bogged down in overdone sonics, to not become trapped by adult contemporary-ready pandering. It's a sound perfectly exemplified by "Anna Molly" (one of Brandon Boyd's all-too-cute plays on words -- get it? "Anomaly"?), the first single, a perfectly breakneck bit of ear-friendly radio rock that's just pushy enough to sound edgy on VH1. Boyd sounds as Patton-esque in his modern rock operatics as ever, and the band has perfected the transition from studio-friendly perfectionists to intentionally messy well-produced garagers. The balls-to-the-wall title track and the refreshingly experimental, suitably twisty "Pendulous Threads" are extensions of this sound, not only singable (or at least "chantable", as it were), but solid in the headphones as well.

Even so, as has been the case on the last few albums, where Incubus truly shines is on the slower tunes, where the musicians involved get to spread their wings a bit without the constraint of having to play as fast as possible. Guitarist Mike Eizinger's riff on "Dig" is delightfully unconventional, even as the song itself is typical AOR balladry, and Jose Pasillas' drums on the beautiful "Paper Shoes" are what keep the song from descending into dull drudgery.

Add in the fact that Incubus is actually finding success with more adventurous moments like the seriously groovy "Rogues" (in which the incorporation of keyboards is both subtle and necessary) and the spacy, spacious opener "Quicksand" (the perfect introductory lead-in to the rollicking "A Kiss to Send Us Off"), and it's clear that Light Grenades actually deserves all the exposure it's just not going to get.

Incubus has never made a perfect album -- no, not even S.C.I.E.N.C.E. -- and Light Grenades, truth told, is far from perfect. "A Kiss to Send Us Off" sounds a little too much like it's aping Foo Fighters, both "Earth to Bella" tracks sound forced and disjoint, and there's still a little too much in the way of faceless middle-of-the-road rock 'n roll. Even so, there's not a single track on Light Grenades that's truly revolting, and plenty that I've already mentioned that are surprisingly good. Even as its release was a quiet surprise, it's not an album that will be easily forgotten.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.