Album reviews: Incubus, 311

Posted: July 28, 2011 in Album Reviews

Incubus, If Not Now, When: The seventh album from alt-rock veterans Incubus is unlike any other in its catalogue.
For the most part, the guitars are turned down, revealing the band’s softer side on the album’s title track and single “Promises, Promises.”
There’s the left-field experimentalism of “In the Company of Wolves,” the album’s longest track at over 7 1/2 minutes. There’s the beautiful acoustic balladry of “Defiance” and the philosophical closer “Tomorrow’s Food.”
The album doesn’t rock like previous releases, but there are a few moments where things get heavy, particularly on “Switchblade” which sounds somewhat similar to the Red Hot Chili Peppers with singer Brandon Boyd’s rapid-fire lyrics and heavy bassline. The guitars are again turned up during the instrumental break in “Adolescents,” one of the best tracks on the album.
Although I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the album at first, it has grown on me with each listen. What it lacks in power, it makes up in finesse and melody. A worthwhile purchase for any fan of the band. Sod rating: ****

311, Universal Pulse: The reggae/rock band 311 has been around now for 20 years, and while they no longer churn out crossover hit singles, they remain a top draw on the summer concert scene every year, as they’re always on the road and have a loyal fan base.
That fan base is rewarded with the release of Universal Pulse, a quick eight-song, 29-minute tour de force of everything the band does well. They return to the rap/rock sounds of their early days on tracks like “Time Bomb” and particularly “Rock On” which despite its cheesy title, certainly does rock.
It seems this album is almost a love letter to its fans, rewarding them for sticking with the band so long. All eight tracks are catchy, especially lead single “Sunset in July,” and as with any good 311 album, the vibes are festive and readymade for summertime with the top-down style cruising. Nothing earth-shattering here, just good fun. Sod rating: *** 1/2

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