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Incubus explodes creatively with “Light Grenades”

Chris McGrady | Sunday, December 3, 2006

Perhaps there is such a thing as audio nicotine, and this album will have the listener either smoking two packs a day or chewing enough Nicorette to choke a horse. Incubus’ newest effort, “Light Grenades,” is the type of CD that once it makes its way to a person’s stereo, may stay there for months. This album doesn’t simply ask to be listened to – it demands it.

The members of Incubus compare their music to art. When lead singer Brandon Boyd was asked to describe his style of making and performing music, he said, “I am tapping into a place in you that is unexplored, and very dangerous, but I think essential to the creative life of an artist.” Incubus stays true to this form and continues to push the proverbial musical envelope, never settling into one style of music for an entire album, not to mention an entire career.

Rather than allow the band to slip into a rut of “don’t fix what’s not broken,” Incubus continues to change its sound, and has done so since its beginning. The band, originally formed in 1991 (while the members were in 10th grade), consisted of Boyd, Mike Einsiger (guitar), Alex Katunich (a.k.a. Dirk Lance, bassist) and Jose Pasillas (drums). Later they added DJ Lyfe (Gavin Koppel). Since then, the only things that have changed are the presence of Katunich, who has since been replaced by Ben Kenney and the replacement of DJ Lyfe with DJ Kilmore (Chris Kilmore).

For the first four years of its existence, Incubus spent most of its time touring and slowly making a name for itself, honing a sound from the likenesses of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Korn, and the Deftones. With the release of “Fungus Amongus,” Incubus departed from the musical homogeneity of the pop-rock scene and found its own niche in a crowded genre. At times sounding like metal, at times like fluid pop and at other times funk, Incubus stretches its musical identities to the max, and “Light Grenades” proves this can be deftly done.

It’s evident early on the album is going to be good. It opens with the song “Quicksand,” a vaguely electronic, enigmatic track that features Boyd’s voice synthesized as if off in the distance. This song slowly fades into track two, “A Kiss To Send Us Off,” which quickly ups the energy and evokes tracks from early in Incubus’ career. The next song, “Dig,” is one of the most addictive on the album and begs to be put on repeat. Don’t be surprised to see this song released as a single and climb up both the Alt-Rock and Pop billboards.

Coming on the third track, “Anna Molly,” is a sound reminiscent of songs from Incubus’ previous work “A Crow Left of the Murder,” and it showcases Boyd’s vocal abilities as well as the musical capabilities of the other members of the band. Other album highlights include “Love Hurts,” a semi-romantic ballad, and “Earth To Bella (Part I)” and “Earth To Bella (Part II).” Both parts of “Earth To Bella” successfully blend acoustic strumming and electric rock guitar to a David-esque perfection, proving artistry extends beyond the realm of sculpture and paint and right into the genre of music.

The diversity of sound and the talent of Incubus gives “Light Grenades” a fighting chance for album of the year, and can easily be considered in the same breath as “Sam’s Town” by The Killers and “Stadium Arcadium” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The tracks are addictive, intriguing, cutting-edge and beautiful. Incubus has done it again – providing an album that will never fall into the depths of auditory anonymity.