If Not Now, When? – A Review of Incubus’s New Album

After a long wait between albums Incubus gave their fans a new album to pour over. Incubus’s new album, If Not Now, When? hit shelves on on July 12th, 2011, and offers a much different sound than previous albums. Much like Linkin Park, in their most recent album, A Thousand Suns, Incubus offers softer, smoother, less aggressive tunes than we’ve come to expect. Let’s break it down by the track.

Adolescents: The album’s lead single, “Adolescents,” was a radio hit as fans anxiously awaited the release of Incubus’s first full-length album in years. “Adolescents” gives you a pretty good idea of what you can expect from the rest of the album–smooth melodies, soft instrumentals, and abstract lyrics. It marks a change in style from what I would describe as somewhat aggressive and loud to a smoother and softer style. Nonetheless, this song rocks! On the surface level it is about feeling overwhelmed, but on a deeper level it’s a commentary on our overall culture. 8/10

If Not Now, When?: Another in the new softer Incubus style, this one goes for slow and epic, “If Not Now, When?” is one a long (over 5 minutes), soft, smooth, almost epic song with beautiful peaks and valleys. It was originally meant to be an high-energy rock song, but it evolved into a beautiful ballad, one in which lead vocalist, Brandon Boyd, shows off his ability to hold a note in a few spots. 8/10

Promises, Promises: You may have heard this one, as it was the album’s second single. It’s one of my favorites, and for good reason. Great lyrics, my favorite line being, “let me be the rabbit in your hat,” make it more than just a catchy tune. The song tells the story of a young girl, who after so many failed attempts at love, has armored herself against the pain of intimacy by only engaging in surface affairs. The keyboard in the background also adds a nice element. 9/10

Friends and Lovers: This may be the most amiable song Incubus has written. It marks a far departure from the aggression in songs like “Pardon Me” and “When it Comes” (both from the album Make Yourself). It lacks that  catchy “hook,” but still makes for an enjoyable tune. 7/10

Thieves: Initially I didn’t care for this song. Early impressions of songs are generally surface level (which may be why poppy songs lacking depth seems to get popular really quickly and then disappear), and to be frank, the provocative lyrics that seem to poke fun of “God fearing white Americans” turned me off. This one is a grower though, after a couple listens I became a fan. Even though I haven’t dug into the deep meaning of this one yet, the delivery and instrumentals are more than solid. 6/10

Isadore: “Erika and her Isadore”…”I won’t rest until the world knows the name Isadore” what the heck is “Isadore”? A name? Some sort of gift? I’m not totally sure, but this track, with its use of the acoustic guitar, is one of the best on the album. Vocals and guitar work flow well together making a standout track. 8.5/10

Original: This tribute to a particular woman’s beautiful uniqueness makes for an interesting song. “Your mind, it is original. Girl, you are the Original.” A slow yet dynamic tune, this one took a few listens for me to appreciate, especially as it is a departure from the Incubus we’re used to. 6.5/10

Defiance: An acoustic track, this is a great listen, one where the lead singer flaunts his talent. As impressive as it may be, this one doesn’t stick with you and makes for a very solid, but not outstanding song. 6.5/10

In The Company of Wolves: The longest song on the album, it’s hard to give a sufficient statement and rating on this song. Dynamic, in that the entire feel of the song quickly, but smoothly shifts from uplifting, almost in a gospel-ish way into a long, strange, abstract, instrumental interlude, to what seems like a totally different song, “In the Company of Wolves” is the most experimental song on the album. 4.5/10

Switchblade: A throwback to the Incubus style we’re used to, “Switchblade,” is easily the most aggressive song on the album. Relating a woman to a switchblade, the metaphor is striking the music does it justice. Probably Boyd’s weakest song from a purely delivery standpoint as this track doesn’t call for the long drawn out notes he hits so beautifully in the other tracks, but it does make for a great change of pace from the rest of the album and features some stellar work on the drums. 6.5/10

Tomorrow’s Food: A strange and slow song, this track is the album’s low point. Inspired by an American Philosopher’s quote; “”No epoch is finally privileged. We are all tomorrow’s food. The process continues. And spirit is found in the process itself, not in any particular epoch, or time, or place,” the song is written from the heart, but without a whole lot of lyrics, it seems like this song is one long and mediocre interlude. 2.5/10

Over the album is very enjoyable, despite not being what you’d expect from Incubus. It gets my recommendation. You can order here.
Album: If Not Now, When? 7/10


7 thoughts on “If Not Now, When? – A Review of Incubus’s New Album

  1. Couldn’t disagree more with the writer. Being a long time Incubus fan this one will be pretty low in my ranking of the albums. And oddly enough I found “Tomorrow’s Food” to be one of the better, if not best tracks on the album.

  2. I’ll admit it took a few listens for the album to grow on me. On the first listen the only ones I liked were the singles and “Isadore,” but after a few more listens they grew on me. I imagine it will have the same effect on you. I was no doubt disappointed at how soft and not dynamic the album was, but I find myself listening to it constantly now.

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