Album Review

Incubus: “If Not Now, When?’’

By Scott McLennan
July 12, 2011

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“The Original’’ and “Defiance’’ are not the best songs on Incubus’s new album, but they are the ones that most plainly state its main themes. Stabbing steadily at the status quo, these songs are a matured balance between art and pop. Brandon Boyd’s charismatic vocals and the band’s thick, elastic rhythms remain signatures, which are applied to songwriting that has gotten richer and more provocative. The title track is a seeker’s decree that sounds forceful without resorting to bombast amid blurred stirrings of desire and spirituality. On “Promises, Promises’’ and “Friends and Lovers,’’ Boyd sings in character to air ideas about straying from the mainstream and forging convictions. “Thieves’’ may not wail like the older “Megalomaniac’’ but it’s an indictment with no less bite. The centerpiece is “In the Company of Wolves,’’ which tries to sort “serenity from ennui’’ and opens a psychedelic vein of wiry guitar lines and fat beats. Incubus has never sounded both so ambitious and relaxed. (Out today)

ESSENTIAL “In the Company of Wolves’’

Incubus plays the Comcast Center on Sept. 9.