Incubus hatches prized ‘Crow’

Brian White

Southern California’s very own, lovable Incubus has once again reinvented itself with the release of its latest effort, “A Crow Left of the Murder.” The band’s fifth album seems to be a grown-up, revamped departure from previous works. “You’re no Jesus, yea, you’re no f***ing Elvis! Step down!” declares lead singer Brandon Boyd on the album’s first single “Megalomaniac,” an apparent shot at the Bush regime. The song is one of many examples of the band’s new political approach to lyrics. While most would agree that president Bush is a far cry from the Messiah himself, fans of the old Incubus might find “Crow” to be less than divine, in its own right (though, certainly more entertaining than watching the king shake his pelvis).

Those familiar with the band may recall the style of their last effort, “Morning View”; the album cover depicting the sprawling Malibu hills, tracks full of percussion and bongos, long (some might even say drawn out) track openings and the band’s general hippied-out persona. With the help of producer extraordinaire Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine), “Crow” finds the band lashing out at the ills of society with a whole new sound – one that doesn’t involve the use of hallucinogens.

The album opens with “Megalomaniac,” a single which seems to epitomize the album’s bold, new style. Guitar and turntables harmonize and then explode into chorus, while Boyd screams at the top of his lungs. Despite the chaos, the two seem to blend together rather well.

This interplay between instruments and vocals radiates through the first half of the album – along with Boyd’s lamentation over the plight of the world via his lyrics. With titles like “Agorophobia,” “Beware! Criminal, Sick Sad Little World” and “Pistola,” you can imagine the apocalyptic images embodied in the songs. Boyd sings about his wanting to “stay inside for good” and deems a pen (and presumably not a bomb) to be his “weapon of choice.” He even goes so far as to ask us people to “quit blowing each other up.” Not such a bad idea, eh?

Aside from the band’s attempt at politics, it simply would not be an Incubus album without a female-inspired track. “Southern Girl” and “Here in My Room” are two haunting love songs which show the band delving in piano for the first time, and represent the album’s more dark, experimental second half.

While the band continues to indulge in effects, instrumentations,and crafty rhythms, “Crow” seems to be a more consistently tune-based album.

There is also the obvious maturation of lyrical content. The album does maintain many of the qualities that make Incubus a great band, however; Boyd’s voice is amazing, as usual, while guitarist Mike Einziger outdoes himself once again with solos and experimental sounds.

Although fans of the conventional Incubus might be disappointed with the hippy band they once knew and loved, the musical sensibility of “Crow” cannot be denied (though, the band’s political prowess might be questionable). And who knows, maybe someday the hallucinogens will once again come-a-knockin’!