Incubus were in danger of being forgotten. The sporadic nature of their recent output admittedly hasn’t helped. With this new album 8 being only their third in 11 years (Following Light Grenades in 2006 and If Not Now, When? in 2011). They haven’t exactly been setting the world alight like they used to. With the law of diminishing returns increasing, many wondered what Incubus had to offer in 2017.
8 is their most cohesive album in years. I would say this is probably the most consistent album they have released since Morning View. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean this is a much sought after return to form. This is still very much in the big chorus, radio rock vein, rather than the jazz funk of their roots.
There’s a renewed focus on actual songs here. There are one or two moments where they go astray. ‘When I Became A Man’ feels like a complete piss take of Lonely Island proportions. Elsewhere ‘Make No Sound In The Digital Forest’ comes off as a completely self-indulgent instrumental. Incubus at their core always were a bit more of a thinking man’s band and it seems over the years they have lost their way.
8 goes a long way to trying to reclaim some of what made them great. You catch glimpses of it in tracks like ‘No Fun’. ‘Nimble Bastard’ and ‘Glitterbomb’ and even in the slower number ‘Loneliest’ which wouldn’t sound out of place on Depeche Mode’s later albums, it’s a really bloody good song. It’s curious then that the aforementioned ‘When I Became A Man’ follows it up and totally kills the vibe.
The second half definitely doesn’t live up to the promise of the first. With the exception of ‘Love in the time of Surveillance’ which is a sexy 70’s sounding tune, that really comes alive in the middle section, with a fuzzy Zeppelin-esque riff, and Brandon Boyd hitting a vocal home run. This is a very front-loaded album.
Much like Red Hot Chilli Peppers before them, Incubus have settled into a sound. No amount of fan outcry will change the path they are on. Much like with the Chilli Peppers, there are the occasional moments where the old band is still there. I will say that I wasn’t expecting a lot from 8 or even Incubus these days. That this album was able to deliver on any level at all was a surprise. But credit where it’s due, there are at least 6-7 songs on here that are worth investigating. That is more than enough for me to recommend it.