Review Summary: Incubus branch out their sound to a more mainstream style and stumble upon their finest and most consistent work to date in the process
1999 was definitely a year for music wasn’t it. Nu-metal was in its prime and a handful of heavy bands were making it into the mainstream very fast. Distorted guitars combined with rapping and screamed vocals with heavy drumming and DJ scratching was very common in the bands of the late 90’s, and Incubus was categorized in this heap along with the rest of them. Their second album, the critically acclaimed S.C.I.E.N.C.E. , was a breakthrough in their sound and featured all of the aspects of a nu-metal band, but they did it more unique and differently from their peers that made them stick out. The record was incredible and combined influences of jazz, funk, rock and metal all into one with kick ass groove. Then a surprise came. Incubus returned with their 3rd effort, which was completely different and a sort of reinvention of their sound. And what a welcome change it was.
“Make Yourself” presents a new, more unique side of Incubus and solidified their place in the mainstream. The songs on this album branch out to different aspects of their sound and they explore new ground. The record flows great and doesn’t get old and keeps you hooked with tons of tasty guitar riffage, funky and awesome bass lines, punk drumming, blazing DJ scratching, and memorable and heartfelt vocals. Rest assured, this album is well worth the listen people. It draws you in from the moment it starts and doesn’t stop with a delivery of all around great and catchy rock tunes.
Vocalist Brandon Boyd is one of the greatest singers in rock today. On all of the songs on this record he proves this, especially in songs like “Stellar” and “Pardon Me” where his vocals soar above the excellent musicianship. Guitarist Mike Einziger offers some of the best guitar work he’s ever done on this album. From the opening riff on “Privilege”, you are hooked into his unique style of playing which is a vital part of the Incubus sound. He uses effects quite well too, which is shown especially on “The Warmth”, “Consequence”, and “Pardon Me”. Bassist Dirk Lance is arguably one of the reasons Incubus were so good back in the day, and his performance on this record is exceptional. His funk driven bass lines are found all over the place on this album. Every song has a great bass line to it, and his performance on “The Warmth”, “Privilege”, and “Battlestar Scralatchtica” prove this on all levels. Drummer Jose Pasillas is the glue that holds the band together. His unique style of punk influenced drumming sets the stage for the mellow and rocked out tunes this album holds. DJ Kilmore is also an integral part of this album, for his presence is part of what makes this record flow so well. Whether it be his eerie samples in “The Warmth” to his great scratching in “Pardon Me” or his all out crazy-ness on “Battlestar Scralatchtica”, he helps add a great extra vibe to the songs and gives them a texture that makes them all the more better. The band really clicks as a whole on this album and you can tell that right away.
One thing the album had a lot of was singles. While each one was great for radio airplay, not all of the singles are particularly album highlights. There are much better songs on the record. “Privilege” should be noted as an album highlight, for it draws you into the record and presents a great chorus after some cool verses and great combination of the bands sound as a whole; particularly the riffs presented by Einziger. “The Warmth” presents a peaceful and calm vibe that really gets you relaxed and has a great chorus that has a happy and sad feeling all in one (if that makes sense). For some of the best bass work and DJ work on the whole album, look no further than “Battlestar Scralatchtica”. The instrumental track really shows off how good of a bassist Dirk is and shows how Kilmore truly adds to the bands sound. Einziger really clicks with Dirk on the track as well which shows how their guitarist-bassist combo really worked well. The true standout track though, the one that defines Incubus’ sound in this era, is “Pardon Me”. Arguably the best song on the record, it showcases how all of the members combine as a whole to make a great rock track. The chorus had a vocal performance that is simply amazing, the guitars are calm in the verses and heavy and distorted in the chorus, the bass is loud and works with the drums great, and the DJ scratching adds to the vibe of the song in an incredible way. It is truly one of the greatest Incubus songs to date.
“Make Yourself” is not just an album; it’s a defining statement in the career of Incubus. It’s an album that, while mainstream, has a sound and sense of originality that can’t be denied. The band could have gone in any direction but they went in this one and proved that they can go upon a different path but still sound great. The songs here are really fun to listen to and bring back memories from when you first heard it back in the day. It’s a timeless record, and its one that should always be looked upon as a great example of a rock band doing what they do best and making an excellent record that just about anyone can listen to and enjoy.