The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 9
Incubus fail to mature
with fifth installment
Hill's Picture Show plays
perfectly for VH1 set
By Laurence J. Freedman
Daily Arts Writer
M USI C R EV IE W **
Before 2001, Incubus was more often
associated with thrashing rap-metal
than with any other strain of rock
music. Fusing fuzzy noise with roaring
guitars and electronic elements, the Cal-
ifornia quintet was
hard rock territory
ceased to make
much sense after
the massive suc-
A Crow Left of
power ballads such as "Iris" after the
random success of 1995's "Name."
Some might call such a change taking
a bold new artistic direction. Most of
those familiar with their older music
(admittedly few) would simply say
they sold out.
Refreshingly, Incubus frontman
Brandon Boyd fails to take his band
closer to Matchbox Twenty territory
on their latest record A Crow Left of
the Murder. Instead, Crow is a satisfy-
ingly consistent alternative-metal
album that will likely please Incubus
fans both new and old. This is an
album that sounds better and better
with each listen.
The comparisons to other bands,
however, are impossible to avoid.
Besides an ability to churn out some-
what inventive riffs and hooks, their
music is devoid of any uniqueness or
Upon arriving on the California
scene, Incubus was celebrated and
criticized for clinging closely to the
thrash-funk of the earlier Red Hot
Chili Peppers. On this newest record,
they owe more to the guitar-driven
sound of the most recent Chili Pep-
major acts as Jason Mraz.
Though the heavy touring expanded
their fan base, they left their Southern
roots on the road. On June's Picture
Show, the homogeneous sound varies
from dull to duller. An injection of coun-
try - or anything, for that matter -
would serve to jump start their music.
June's Picture Show does contain sev-
eral solid songs. "Captain" is a heartfelt
ballad that sets the tone for the entire
album. "The Day Your Luck Runs Out"
demonstrates Phil Bogard's competent
guitar stylings and Justin Moore's
melodic voice. After a while though,
they seem to merely regurgitate the
songs of their equally bland peers:
"She's so perfect" is eerily similar to
Matchbox Twenty's radio hit "3 a.m."
This mediocrity is their undoing, as they
have no signature tone to call their own.
On the other hand, 30-somethings
need their dose of rock rebellion too. At
the very least, Ingram Hill is not as
oblivious to the aging process as their
pseudo-adolescent contemporaries. VH1
junkies will hail Ingram Hill and praise
their lyrical and musical capabilities.
Although June's Picture Show is a solid
album, Ingram Hill play it safe in a tried
and true paradigm instead of striving for
cess of their single "Drive" and the
release of Morning View that year.
"Drive" was incredibly mellow, fea-
turing a soaring chorus and a guitar part
that Dave Matthews could have written.
Coupled with the release of the ballad-
filled Morning View, it seemed as
though Incubus might have been head-
ed towards Goo Goo Dolls territory.
The Goo Goo's completely
switched their focus from raunchy
punk and messy hard rock to writing
pers music or the jagged intensity of
Rage Against the Machine than any-
To say that Incubus lack the cre-
ativity of either band would be an
understatement. Nothing on Crow is
as wonderfully breezy or as catharti-
cally rebellious as the latest material
those two bands have recently
Instead, what Incubus delivers on
Crow lies somewhere blandly in
between. This should guarantee them
a fair amount of success and populari-
ty with the mainstream teenage audi-
ence. Boyd's lyrics flirt with social
commentary, but there's nothing par-
ticularly insightful here. "Since when
did what we pay for colored cloth
gauge our gravity?" he asks in "Zee
Deveel." Boyd should certainly have
better questions than this at age 28.
But then again, maybe not, as two
songs later, Boyd confesses he
"Understands why they say 'high
school never ends.' "
that immediately come to mind. On their
sophomore album, June's Picture Show,
Ingram Hill prove that they harbor the
same musical capabilities as their peers
but lack that enigmatic "it" quality that
sets a band apart.
There was a time when Ingram Hill
had its own identity. Their first album,
Until Now, was released on Traveler
Records and created a mild ripple in the
alt-country underground of Nashville,
Tenn. Disappointed by a lukewarm
response, the band set forth on a gruel-
ing tour schedule opening for such