Album Review: If Not Now, When? by Incubus

Last week, one of my favorite bands came out with a new album after an extended hiatus. Incubus released If Not Now, When? on July 12, following one of the most inspired online marketing campaigns of all time. Here’s a year-old Twitter quote from me, just to get us started:

The thing about RHCP is, at the height of their career, they still weren’t as good as Incubus on Fungus Amongus. Which they recorded in H.S.

Popular opinion doesn’t agree with my assertion, but I’m not entirely sure why. I mean, Flea is very technically gifted, and John Frusciante is a damn good guitarist. But Anthony Kiedis sounds like Kermit the Frog’s drunk loser cousin. Every album by Incubus has been a step forward. There are people who miss the good old days, back when Alex Katunich, AKA Dirk Lance, was still slapping the bass. With each new album, or even new song, I hear fans wishing back to the days of S.C.I.E.N.C.E., Incubus’s 1997 follow-up to Fungus Amongus. It was heavy. It was funky. It was awesome. But I’m sick of hearing people complain about Incubus sounding different with each effort. S.C.I.E.N.C.E. sounded wholly different from Fungus Amongus. Make Yourself sounded entirely different from S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Morning View sounded completely different from Make Yourself. And those were all albums that Alex Katunich/Dirk Lance was a part of! So, when you listen to Incubus’s latest effort, If Not Now, When?, don’t be surprised. It is different.

I was skeptical, I’m not going to lie. I always am. Incubus’s stuff has always had to grow on me a little. If Not Now, When?, I was afraid, would be the same situation. I heard Adolescents, the first single from the new album, and I thought it was pretty good. I heard Promises, Promises, and I just wasn’t wowed. The album was released, and I listened to it. The first three tracks, well, they didn’t do it for me. After track three, I was thinking, “Uh oh.” I was genuinely concerned. But then, Thieves kicked in. Dude, you guys. The rest of the album is just unbelievable. It’s incredible. It is, without a doubt, their best album to date. It’s a slow burn. It’s a bunch of slow jams. It’s got some elements of classic rock that I have never heard from Incubus. It manages to nod at the history of rock, yet still sound fresh and unique.

What elements of older Incubus do I miss? Faster tempo, heavier guitars, blazing guitar solos. But these were sacrificed in favor of some beautifully simplistic songwriting that allows for their raw talent to shine. Go out and buy it. And, honestly, give the first three tracks a chance. A lot of their older stuff has had to grow on me, and I suspect that will be the case for the first three tracks here, as well. This album is a must-have.


About TR Snyder

I’m obsessed with The Beatles. I love fall and spring. I like to read. I like to watch TV. I believe in aliens and UFOs. My favorite movie is 500 Days of Summer. I’m a sucker for a good zombie flick though. I play guitar, bass, uke and blues harp. All at a distinctly mediocre level. I often forget to zip my fly. I love to cook. I went to school for poetry. Let’s see, what else? Long walks on the beach, the smell of the wind before rain, candlelight dinners, etc. I hate auto-tune. I can’t emphasize that enough. I also hate drum machines. I want to learn drums and piano. And a second language. Probably French.