Review Summary: Are YOU in?
As Incubus fans realized by now, the band had released three utterly disparate records throughout the 1990’s, each heading in entirely different musical directions. Their debut album “Fungus Amongus” received mixed acclaim, due to its merely odd song structure and combination of musical genres. “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” continued on the path of change, and introduced a much more hectic and “in-your-face” type of sound. This particular record was successful, but did not reach the jurisdiction of the mainstream, which is something that its predecessor “Make Yourself” achieved. Despite its commerciality, “Make Yourself” marked a high point at the time, for an ever-changing band. Harnessing a tremendous amount of talent, these three records were major surprises for a band, which never seemed to run out of ways to stun the listener. With their first release of the new millennium, Incubus shocked their fans again. They didn’t change. Well, that much.
“Make Yourself” proved to be the perfect fusion of commerciality and much calmer sound, and did not suffer a great deal in terms of creativity. “Make Yourself,” and Incubus’ 2001 release “Morning View,” are the most similar of the band’s records. Throughout the record, Incubus utilizes the unique turntable and volume swell effects that are so apparent on “Make Yourself,” to create a spacey ambience. Opening track Nice to Know You
is evident of Incubus’ creative approach, riding the effect of DJ Kilmore’s turntables and Mike Einziger’s signature volume swells. These distinctive sounds are featured in nearly all of “Morning View’s” tracks, and serve as a major outlet for the album’s success.
In regards to lead singer Brandon Boyd, he continues to demonstrate his growth as a vocalist, and expresses the fact that his new “singing” style has been adapted beautifully into the band’s latest work. While Boyd’s rap and screaming technique complemented “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” with great virtuosity, his pure singing method has proved to be more effective and directly linked to the band’s success. With that said, Brandon has been able to channel his remarkable versatility, and is efficient on all parameters. When the music is mellow, Brandon is soothing and emotional, even showing off a falsetto from time to time. Despite the fact that he does not display the anger that he once did, Brandon’s voice is quite powerful and aggressive when it needs to be. Just a Phase
is simply a flawless representation of Boyd’s vocals; his intensity grows as the music grows, and is at the top of his game with falsettos and tones.
Not unlike “Make Yourself,” “Morning View’s” success was propelled by several exceptional singles. Wish You Were Here
is somewhat of a standard rock song however, is uplifting and has a warm feeling to it. Boyd’s lyrics do a tremendous job of painting the picture for the listener, and the track that seems like the perfect song to listen to reflecting on the beach. “I dig my toes into the sand, the ocean looks like a thousand diamonds strewn across the blue blanket.” Warning
plays the role as exceptional single as well, utilizing the signature sound featured on both “Make Yourself” and “Morning View,” and highlighting what is a stupendous performance by Brandon on vocals. The hardest rocking of the singles Nice to Know You
is one of the more famous Incubus songs to date, and is the best opener in the band’s catalog. Although presenting fairly straightforward singles, these tracks in particular are what brought new listeners to the band and serve a vital purpose on the record.
“Morning View” is a much mellower release than any of its predecessors, and in this light is the most impressive. Despite the high-fueled energy of Circles
and Under My Umbrella
, the lighter tracks seem to bring more to the table. Aqueous Transmission
could very well be the most intriguing track that has ever been written by Incubus; its floating ambience like none other. To say that Aqueous Transmission
is relaxing would be an understatement, for this song is elevated by the perfect fusion of soothing vocals, strings, a flute, and a ko-kyu (Japanese mandolin type instrument). The experience is quite interesting, and has a tremendous purpose as the closer of the record. Echo
to a lesser extent has the same effect, but could be the most heartfelt track that “Morning View” has to offer. The record’s underscore however, comes in the form of builder Just a Phase
, which is brilliantly written and combines the band’s mellow and aggressive approaches. Riding several acoustic riffs, strings, and Brandon’s tone singing, Just a Phase
smoothly develops into a completely conflicting track over four minutes in. After Brandon proclaims, “It’s just a…PHASE,” the song explodes with energy, and is how it remains for the final minute.
Although “Make Yourself” and “Morning View” appear to have irreparable similarities, “Morning View” presents enough superior material to surpass what was Incubus’ greatest record. Incubus proves to deliver enough original material to make “Morning View” stand on its own as the band’s best; where the record is situated at the present day. From the raw energy of Under My Umbrella
to the groovy as hell Are You In?
, “Morning View” is a record that Incubus will struggle to exceed.
Nice to Know You
Wish You Were Here
Just a Phase
Are You In?