January 12, 2007

Another "Crow Left Of The Murder"

Let's be frank from the start: when calling "Light Grenades" a follow-up to 2004's "A Crow Left Of The Murder," that is meant in every sense. You want the politics of "Megalomaniac"? Listen to the title track. You enjoyed "Sick Sad Little World"? You'll like "Rogues". "Leech" and "Priceless"? "Pendulous Threads" and "A Kiss To Send Us Off". "Southern Girl" and "Here In My Room"? "Dig" and "Love Hurts". "Paper Shoes" feels incredibly familiar in set-up and lyric structure as well.

Now, from this you'd think I'm unimpressed with this album, but that's far from the truth. While it is a wonderful thing for bands to change things around from album to album, there's also something to be said for a gradual evolution, and this album follows the pattern that Incubus has been on from their funk beginnings in the "Enjoy/Fungus Amongous days". Brandon Boyd's voice has gotten stronger, less reliant on the scream-talk from his earlier work. Michael (not Mike anymore) Einziger's guitar riffs have become more complex and ambient.

The album starts off in the vein of a Notwist/Elbow song, meaning sound-effects laden and using the voice as more of an instrument than the focus, with "Quicksand". This bleeds right into "A Kiss To Send Us Off" in a 1-2 transition that could be put in the ranks of "Intro/Apocalypse Please" from Muse's "Absolution" and (almost) "Doll/Monkey Wrench" from the Foo Fighters' "The Colour And The Shape". The ending of "Quicksand" - "I hover somewhere in between...I swear.../I can't make up my mind" - is a good line to remember as you listen to the rest of the album. Brandon tries to bring back Incubus' harder image with songs such as "Pendulous Threads," but the breath effects in softer "Dig" remove any hard rock image that clean-cut Brandon Boyd could attempt. Honestly, the hardest songs on the album are the weak points. Boyd is at his best with soft ("Dig," "Love Hurts") to mid-tempo (the title track, "Anna Molly"). Anything harder than the title track feels a little forced on this album. Luckily, the number of songs like that has shrunk from album to album and we're left with the Brandon of "Mexico" in "Pardon Me". While I still consider "S.C.I.E.N.C.E." to be Incubus' best album and enjoy "Blood On The Ground" off "Morning View," I have to say I like the more mature, mid-to-soft direction that Incubus has taken. Old-school fans may disagree, but I think Incubus have pulled a Green Day by showing what they thought of the funk fanatics in, "Drive," and going on to grow as they saw fit.

A line off "Love Hurts" is "Love sings/when it transcends the bad things," and that's how I feel about this album. The less enjoyable songs are exactly that, but everything else shines on this album.

Final score: 89/100

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