Incubus (remember them?) are back after a five year gap with their seventh album If Not Now, When?. The band stated that the reason for such a long gap between records was that they wanted to take a break to ensure that their next album wasn't written on a tour bus, about a tour bus. Instead this album is a collection of over-thought and over-written songs which lean too heavily on Brendan O'Brien's production and Brandon Boyd's vocals.
Incubus have always been one of those bands that skirted on the edges of the mainstream, but with If Not Now, When? it seems they have made a concerted effort to appeal to the masses instead of targeting the more specific, and perhaps more loyal, rock niche. Boyd seems to have styled his vocal performances on this album as if he was auditioning on American Idol.
The first, and title track, (which rather unnervingly like Do They Know It's Christmas?), and it rarely picks up from after that. It's unquestionably more subdued than their previous work, finding no place for any rangy, rock-driven numbers like their hit single Megalomaniac from yesteryear. In fact there's very little immediately to latch onto on this record, and with most of the tracks coming in around the five minute mark, continuous listens sees the tracks blend into each in one undeterminable mess of blandness.
The album does contain a few tracks which stand out above the rest. Defiance, interestingly, is one of the few tracks with a real life to it and it comes in at just over two minutes in duration, suggesting that a different and more tacked down approach would have fit the album a bit better. Adolescents, chosen by the band as a single, is another track which begin interestingly enough but, like the rest of the album, gets lost within itself.
On the evidence of If Not Now, When? the gap between Incubus' most recent albums has been more of a hindrance than a help.