Review Summary: Brandon Boyd's foray into solo territory is a pleasant listen, but is ultimately lacking.
Brandon Boyd is no stranger to change. As the front man of an alternative rock band that essentially reinvents themselves with each release, it would only be fitting for him to take on a completely disparate challenge in the form of a solo career. Needless to say, the renowned Incubus lead vocalist had been instrumental to the band’s evolving and autonomic nature throughout the 90’s and 00’s; utilizing vocal techniques that ranged from abrasive nu-metal rapping to pure singing. The latter represents the Brandon Boyd that was so prevalent on the band’s past two or three releases, serving as pertinent adaptations to the music even if it meant sacrificing a bit of innovation. Boyd had actually indicated following the release of Light Grenades
that the band was reluctant of their earlier work, believing that they had taken a much more mature approach in recent time. This has been apparent with Incubus’ latest live performances, generally leaving songs from both S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
and Fungus Amongus
out of setlists. This transformation (although not necessarily a positive one), has made it possible for the Incubus lead singer to undertake a solo stint. Currently in 2010, Boyd has been situated in a circumstance akin to Eddie Vedder just a few years back; a fresh and divergent career move from a band in their decline. The conventional and erratic nature of Light Grenades
has facilitated the need for such a adjustment, as we begin to expect less and less from a band that is capable of much more.
Boyd’s maturation and development into a predominantly clean vocalist has established him as one of the more relevant mainstream singers in recent memory, so it would only be fitting that his solo debut The Wild Trapeze
, showcase this. Virtually every track is indicative of his wonderful singing voice; demonstrating his ability to climb up and down the latter with ease and evoke a profound sense of passion when necessary. Lead single “Runaway Train” conveys the aforementioned statements with flying colors, while serving as an infectious and accurate representation of the album. Unfortunately, much of The Wild Trapeze
is predictable and one-dimensional, generally featuring an acoustic guitar and insipid backing instrumentation. The tandem of “Last Night A Passenger” and “All Ears Avow!” however, offer stark comparisons to the rest of the record. Both utilize a distorted and brooding atmosphere which contributes a bit of disposition to an otherwise uneventful release.
Even in Incubus’ finest moments, songwriting had never been Boyd’s forte, often disguised by the band’s novel instrumentation and his soaring vocals. The discrepancy here is that the focus on solely on Boyd, and therefore, relatively pedestrian songwriting is exposed as a much more formidable issue. Despite its pleasant nature, “Runaway Train” delineates The Wild Trapeze
in this regard, taking a lyrical conduit that has been done millions of times before: “And I try so hard to get out of the way of that runaway train. Oh, how I do love the rain.”
Brandon Boyd’s solo debut is a rather uneventful release, but yet a hopeful one. The potential for greater things is obvious considering his tremendous talent as a vocalist, which will only be furthered by polished songwriting. His foray into a solo career may prove to be a brilliant move considering Incubus’ falling stock, but for now has both options to continue to build on his illustrious reputation.