Review Summary: A Good alternative outing for the early 21st century but doesn't effectively mesmerize the listener as "Make Yourself" did.
Critically, "Morning View" is the best album Incubus has put out, but that title is always up for debate. Many amendments have been made to their sound since "Make Yourself" and while most of them are equal trades, some few seem like losses, and the scarce amount of gains don't quite make up for the detracted quality.
For starters, the spacious interstellar ambience of "Make Yourself" is gone almost entirely, with Einziger's guitar textures now limited to raw distortion and clean playing. It's a jam-like feel that works well when the band goes out guns blazing, but at other times, feels somewhat bland. Songs that were once infectious by playing on caked effects are now revealed to be less unique via the standard electric guitar tone.
DJ Killmore is toned down drastically, serving as backdrop for most songs, and only being center-stage on songs like "Are You In"" Dirk Lance is more evident on the aforementioned track, as well as throughout the album, thanks to enhanced bass production. Vocalist Brandon Boyd is as talented as before, but is now nestling into a natural current of sensuality with his emphasized singing.
From the get-go, "Nice To Know You" commences and is powered by pure music and brute force. The band jams relentlessly with only a dash of effect echoing in the background. Next up is "Circles" a considerably heavier track for the bunch to rock out to, but nonetheless, it is a solid song that ensures these guys still got it. The album's flawless beginning continues through "Wish You Were Here," the album's single and "Just a Phase," a sensitive and dazy track that shows technical mastery and stunning musicianship.
The entirety of the album's middle can feel like a slump of mediocrity. "11 am's" verse is a slow build-up to an effortless chorus that almost seems intended to disappoint. "Blood on the Ground" features an equivalent performance that strains awkwardness on its chorus "IIIIIIII don't wanna talk to you anymore...I'm afraid of what I might say." "Mexico" attempts to spice things up acoustically, but only manages to prevail as a lullaby or sleep-aid, sporting a repetitive and only slightly appealing melody.
"Warning," another single, jumps back to high-level energy with a catchy verse and chorus, but isn't attributed to anything truly special that helps it stand out..at all. The next track "Echo" is also a catchy, yet softer spin, that exemplifies eloquent slide-guitar and gentle singing.
The final four tracks close on a contrasting note with the ever so average "Have You Ever" beating on a heavier simple melody with again little effort or drive for uniqueness. "Are You In"" rides a slow-moving groove of epic proportions via Dirk Lance's impeccable bass playing and Einziger's ringing guitar motifs. Boyd gets rather soulful but the end result is a little stale.
"Under My Umbrella" follows, and is more reminiscent of "Make Yourself" or "S.C.I.E.N.C.E." than anything else on the album. It's a quick and angry track with integrated electronic noise and a rocking chorus riff. The grand finale` "Aqueous Transmission" is peaceful and harmonic, but is essentially like taking a handful of unisom. Incubus delivers an asian sitar melody that plays slower than the flow of molasses, over gentle violins and supporting forest ambience. It's an idea that sounds delightful on paper, but is seven minutes in length and doesn't stray too far from its only-so-flavorable main tune.
"Make Yourself" took listeners on a journey through soundscapes, interesting textures, and musical atmosphere. "Morning View" attempts to thrive on less filtered instrumentation and well-bounded performance but ends up drying out at points where the band is clearly relying on the main riff, which at times, isn't all that memorable. Some of their exploratory ideas succeed ("Are You In"") and others crash and burn ("Aqueous Transmission"), but luckily there's twice as much good for any Incubus fan on here, than there is anything that might be considered average, or "bad."