Okay. I took some time and listened to the album straight through one more time to put my final thoughts together for my song by song review. Here we go..
'No Fun'- Fantastic opener. This is definitely one of my favorites off the album. Huge mistake not having this one be lead single. From the moment it kicks in, you know..this is NOT going to be INN,W? Part II. Great energy! I also like the subject matter of breaking the habits of youth. Modern-day Brandon is having a converstion with his younger self , saying he doesn't want keep repeating the same life patterns. ("You're a song I never want to hear again"). It's like a callback to 'Priviledge', with a bridge that reminds me of 'Adolescents' (how appropriate! ) without being a total retread. And when the music drops after the bridge, and you just hear Brandon belting the hell out of the chorus..WOW! Can't wait to hear this one live. 10/10
'Nimble Bastard'- I've commented on this one previously. I liked (didn't really love) the original single version. I understand the original was far from perfect, but I hate what they did to Mike and Jose's part on the new mix- especially Jose's. The kick is heavy, with nothing to balance it..so it's loud and empty at the same time (an issue on a couple of tracks on this album). I also feel that they brought Kil up a little too much in the new mix, to the point where some of the effects are distracting. With that being said, I do like the lyrics...a nice ode to resilience. 6.5/10
'State of The Art'- Again, I've pretty much spoken on this one already. Great lyrics and instrumentation during the verses, but the overdriven guitar and underwhelming lyrics of the chorus leave me cold. 7/10
'Glitterbomb'- 'Nimble' dropped first, but this is the track that got me really excited for the album. I hear some elements of 'Made for TV Movie' and 'A Kiss To Send Us Off' put through a Soundgarden/Faith No More filter, which, on paper, doesn't seem like it would work. But, boy, does it work! Also, you can hear how Sardy really pushed Brandon. The rawness of the vocals in the second verse really deliver. And that bridge. That EPIC bridge!! 9/10
'Undefeated'- I've touched on this one as well. The Pixies influence is obvious here . Incubus has touched on this sound previously, in 'Earth To Bella Part 2', which I loved. This is another song where I think the kick is slightly overbearing, but I think that effect fits this song better than 'Nimble'. While I feel the verse lyrics in this song are not as strong as others, I love the chorus delivery, song structure and overall feel to a point where I find it pretty enjoyable. 7.5/10
'Loneliest'- Haunting and moody. Enigmatic and seductive. It sucked me in from the moment I heard a snippet of this track last month. I hear elements of 'Here In My Room' and 'In The Company of Wolves' (back half) on this one. I also feel these are some of the most personal, honest lyrics Brandon has ever written and I have to commend him for that. If I could change something on this, I would love an extended guitar solo on that bridge. Mike's guitar tone is so beautiful here and I just want more. 9.5/10
'When I Became A Man'- Sigh..the joke track. I would probably appreciate this track a little bit more if we had a 13-14 track album on our hands. It's only 56 seconds long, but feels like it's taking up precious album space. 5.5/10
'Familiar Faces'- 'Talk Shows on Mute' for 2017. I can identify with the subject matter of being disillusioned with someone who you looked up to turns out to be not who you thought they were. That feeling of thinking that everyone around you is "drinking the Kool-Aid", falling for obvious lies, and you're the lone voice of reason. Nice groove and catchy chorus. This track really works for me. I also appreciate the subtle touches Skrillex put on this track. He slips in some effects throughout, without it ever taking over to where it becomes distracting. 8/10
'Love In A Time Of Suveillance'- I said it before and I'll say it again: that bassline, the guitar work and Brandon's vocal..PERFECTION!! You really couldn't ask for more. 90's grunge meets 2017. I also think this track contains commentary that's important for the times we are living in right now. How much privacy and identity are we willing to give up for the sake of technology and "public knowledge"? I feel this is something we need to deal with sooner rather than later. 9.5/10
'Make No Sound In The Digital Forest'- Since this is an instrumental, I obviously can't comment on lyric content. But I love that we have a track of the guys switching things up, with Brandon on bass and Ben on drums. Everyone in this band is so multi-talented, and this just peels back another layer that I hope they explore on tour and future albums. 9/10
'Throw Out The Map'- SNAP!! Strong closing track. I hear elements of 'Have You Ever', 'Under My Umbrella" and "Sick Sad Little World" on this. Lyrically, I feel like this song brings the album full circle from 'No Fun', with just as much energy. The "spell" is broken, the "snake" is shedding its skin and there's no going back. At the same time, it's almost a recommitment, or perhaps an evolution, to the creed from "A Crow Left of The Murder" (From here on it's instinctual/ Even straight roads meander/ Every piece contains a map of it all). And, of course, how can you NOT love the "Chaka Khan" line? LOL!! 10/10
If you do the math, it comes to 8.3/10, but I'm rounding up to 8.5/10.
Highly enjoyable album that I feel I will enjoy more and more with each listen. I swear, I put my headphones on, and I pick up on something different everytime. Sign of a great grower!!
When prey softly outwits its predator
Such is a sight to see
While All The Vultures Feed- Incubus