Sunday, November 19, 2006

Elite Opinion Gives The Nod: Light Grenades

Well, to say I didn’t have much hope for Light Grenades would be a vast understatement.

Anyone who's heard the few “songs” Incubus did for the Stealth soundtrack knows that the band had not only hit bottom, but crashed straight through that bottom and fallen into a fiery noxious pit of pop-music hell.

The songs were bad enough to induce seizures, vomiting and in a few isolated cases, death.

Of course when I say death, I mean the death of the band, because surely these astonishingly obvious chords and melodies were the indisputable death-tolls of this group’s career. And it’s not as if their last release would disagree; aside from a few enjoyable and clever moments A Crow Left of the Murder was painful in its own right, but in contrast to Incubus’ earlier work - it was downright torturous.

So Light Grenades.

As soon as the listener arrives at the meat of the album you’ll find that guitarist’s Einziger’s attempt at huge distorted attacks have, (as always) fallen short of even the most trite hard-rock band’s delivery. And Brandon, oh dear Brandon; this band’s listenablity has ALWAYS hinged upon your tart and spacey vocals – but you’ve grown increasingly nasally and banal.

So what now? Does Boyd deliver the epic wandering sonic majesty that we all know he’s always been capable of?

No. And yes.

And does Einziger’s lack of crushing distorted chops castrate the band right from the start?

Yes. And No.

It's complex. In regards to Boyd; sure his iffy, terse and forced choruses are all there. And he isn’t pouring out endless waves of abstract soaring undulation we all love.

But he’s found something else, he’s found maturity.

For the first time in a long time, Brandon floats when he should float and ducks when he should duck. And he’s not the only one. While Einziger’s guitars still don’t punch and roar like a proper hard-rock guitar should, he’s mastered just about every other nuance you could ask for. And in the album’s later tracks he manages to give his axe some extra punch using his most formidable skill – rampant ingenuity. And the rest of the Incubus boys follow suit. Anyone who knows anything about this band knows the Jose is a phenomenal drummer and Ben Kenney has proved himself yet again.

Actually as proof goes, Light Grenades is crystal clear declaration that Incubus is in it for the long haul. This is a career band. And when I say that, I mean Red Hot Chili Peppers. The connection between these two Cali groups has never been more pronounced than it is on this last release. You could literally swap members in and out of each other’s line-up and neither band would miss a step.

Beyond being overtly reminiscent of Cali groups like Chili Peppers, 311 and now even The Volta, Grenades sounds distinctly European mainly like the Doves and of course Radiohead.

Uh oh the “R” word.

Look, there is a lot of OK Computer in Light Grenades. There just is. And if you don’t believe me go ask Einziger or producer Brandon O’Brien.

They clearly crafted this product after Radiohead’s masterpiece and god bless them and their huge balls, it just about works.

Light Grenades is trippy, snappy, deft, playful, epic, honest and all of the other things that make a great pop-album, and well frankly, a great album in general.

And so Incubus has surged out of their brimstone purgatory and returned to their rightful place in the sky. But while the guys do great work in the clouds – they truly come alive in the endless expanses between planets and suns, and they haven’t quite rejoined the cosmos. Yet.

However, I think most of us will be thoroughly satisfied to see that once again, Incubus is reaching for the stars.


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