Incubus' 7th Album, 'If Not Now, When?' Turns 7(Warning: Long Post)

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Incubus' 7th Album, 'If Not Now, When?' Turns 7(Warning: Long Post)

Postby The Idler Wheel » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:45 pm

First off, I will always have fond memories of the Incubus HQ week of shows that kickstarted this album release. I’ll always remember logging onto the live stream and the IOV boards, commenting and interacting every night in real time while the band was playing. Even though the album had leaked months prior, I didn’t listen to any songs beyond the two released singles (‘Adolescents’, ‘Promises, Promises’) and 'In The Company of Wolves' from the Berlin webcast in June 2011 (which I loved from the moment I heard it). It was a real treat to hear the other songs from the new album slowly introduced throughout the week, with it culminating in the album being played live front to back, like they did on the first two nights with Morning View and Make Yourself. I remember freaking out when the live feed froze in the middle of the premiere of Isadore. I remember all the jokes in between songs and of course the life-changing premiere of SUGAR WATER PURPLE!

I liked a majority of the album on first listen. Right off the bat, it hits you as a more subtle, subdued Incubus that a lot of people did not see coming. When you step back from it, however, the shift makes much more sense. By this point in their career, Incubus had traveled the world several times over and, as a band, had accomplished more they ever dreamed possible when they started. This was especially true for Brandon, Mike and Jose, who started when they were only 15 and spent their entire 20's on the road. After touring Light Grenades, Incubus finally took a REAL hiatus after touring extensively for 13-14 years. They had that brief stint of promoting Monuments and Melodies (their first compilation album of greatest hits and rarities), but for the most part, they spent about 2 years off the Incubus mothership, focusing on their personal goals and relationships outside of the band.

Mike went to Harvard to study music theory, breaking music down to its most basic forms, and performed two original orchestral compositions: end.>vacuum and Forced Curvature of Reflective Surface. Brandon went back to art school, curated his first solo art exhibition “Ectoplasm’ and released his first solo music project, 'The Wild Trapeze'. Jose took time to enjoy parenthood and honed his drumming skills. Kilmore continued to hone his skills on the piano and various other synthesizers. Ben released another brillant solo album, ‘Burn The Tapes’. They were all growing as individuals and as musicians. 'If Not Now, When?' will always be an important album to me because it captures that equally exhilarating and terrifying journey of leaving behind what you were and the safety of what you've known in order to embrace who you are meant to become.
-Brandi

We stand undefined
Can't be drawn with a straight line
This will not be our ending
We are alive, we are alive

Evanescence-Imperfection

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Re: Incubus' 7th Album, 'If Not Now, When?' Turns 7(Warning: Long Post)

Postby Jelger » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:57 am

Nice write-up.

For me, the memory of the first half of 2011 is a little less positive. I was super excited by Surface to Air after we got to hear it on the 2010-tour in South America. I was really blown away by the song, that felt so different from Light Grenades and so much more like Morning View to me. When Adolescents dropped, the excitement remained high. Again, I got that Morning View-vibe. A little more soaring than Light Grenades, a little more openness in the guitar playing. The video didn't blow me away, but then again I don't think there are many music videos I've watched more than once.

Then the album leaked. And I wanted to resist, because this was the first time as a major Incubus-fan that they were releasing a new album and I didn't want to spoil myself. But it was still three months until the official release and I quickly caved. I remember vividly shutting myself in my room, lights dimmed, no distractions, fully ready to soak in the new album. And the opening song felt so weird to me, so incredibly off. The vocal melody especially made no sense to me, there was a lack of energy that I didn't anticipate. It was followed by Promises, Promises (a song I dislike a lot, though some live version are okay-ish) and Friends and Lovers (which has a similar feel for me, but a little more guilty pleasure-ish over time). Then the songs started to blend together, with only The Original sticking out as the first Incubus-song I actually hated and thought was bad not for their standards but for music's standards. The build-up during the intro with no pay off, the lyrics that completely missed the mark for me and the unnecessary heavy and noisy outro. Switchblade drew my attention a bit, for breaking out of that energy-less mold. But I was so disappointed. I listened to the album three times that night and I think after those three listens the songs started to grow on me a little bit, especially Isadore. But the disappointment remained.

The HQ-days were really cool. I didn't stay up all night for every night, but I stayed up until 4am to watch them play Make Yourself. I was constantly watching when I had the time. It was very exciting. A little while before I saw the band live at Hurricane Festival and was blown away by the setlist and by that time I knew the new songs by heart, never mind my distaste for them. I was the only one singing along to In The Company of Wolves, officially unreleased at the time.

Nowadays, I can appreciate INNW a little more, but it still remains their weakest effort besides Fungus Amongus for me. The title track has grown on me considerably, on the other hand Switchblade has faded into obscurity for me (though I liked seeing it live in 2012 in Tilburg). Isadore became my favorite track of the record, The Original I've always hated. There's just too much for me to dislike on the record to actually call it good. I can listen to it from front to back, but never with my full attention. I fade in and out. It's the first period in Incubus' career they produced music I actively hated: The Original and Rebel Girls. I can never understand why Surface to Air was omitted from the album. That's a worse decision than leaving any other b-side of a record if you ask me. While I really have fond memories of the things the band was doing at the time (HQ, bootleg website, pretty varied set lists), the album never will be my favorite or even near the top.

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Re: Incubus' 7th Album, 'If Not Now, When?' Turns 7(Warning: Long Post)

Postby The Idler Wheel » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:29 am

I appreciate your post, Jelger. I have to say, I am so with you on "The Original". I would switch that out with 'Surface to Air' in a heartbeat!
-Brandi

We stand undefined
Can't be drawn with a straight line
This will not be our ending
We are alive, we are alive

Evanescence-Imperfection

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Re: Incubus' 7th Album, 'If Not Now, When?' Turns 7(Warning: Long Post)

Postby Jim Reaper » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:11 am

It's not a good album. I would go so far as to say it damaged their career irreversibly (well, that combined with the long hiatuses between albums)

But in the name of positivity, Isadore and Surface to Air are still great songs. Rebel Girls, Adolescents and the second half of Wolves are decent as well. I think those are all the songs from those sessions that wouldn't bum me out if they appeared in a setlist.

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Re: Incubus' 7th Album, 'If Not Now, When?' Turns 7(Warning: Long Post)

Postby Jelger » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:27 pm

This album, followed by the long hiatus really hurt their career. If they either would've followed it up quickly with a better record or wouldn't have released a dividing album like this at that time, they would've probably been more on the radar.


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