There was once a time in my not-so-expansive musical life when “world music” meant Our Lady Peace, because they were from Canada, and “emo” meant Everclear, because that guy’s dad was really mean. Sometime around that point, Incubus was my favorite “indie rock” band, because despite the fact that they had made a bunch of albums for Sony, none of my friends had heard of them, and I was all the cooler for it. But alas, as swiftly as Carson Daly waved his magic TRL wand, Incubus was on the charts, and my favorite “indie” band had sold out. And jeez, this was even before Morning View.
Now Incubus has a new album, A Crow Left of the Murder, a “bold” statement whose album art appears to scream “Yahr! We used a scraggly font! It’s a rock album!” but whose music fails to present the deserved hour-long apology for the orchestral remix of “Drive” to all of the dudes who loved the nu-metal-cross-funk rawk on 1995’s Fungus Amongus.
Every song on Murder has at least three or four of those signature Mike Einziger pop-rock riffs that every high school freshman who got a Squier Strat and a distortion pedal for Christmas will be squeaking out from Internet tabs within the next month or so. The problem is that most of the songs almost sound too busy for mainstream rock: the single, “Megalomaniac,” alone manages to milk the band’s Police influence in the verses, turn Audioslave in the chorus, and still sound like a sneak preview of the fourth Third Eye Blind album in the break.
Murder is not a bad album, but it offers up nothing new from a band that’s been blessed by record sales. Not much has changed since the last round of songs, except that founding bassist Dirk Lance has been replaced, and according to the solo on “Sick Sad Little World,” Mike Einziger has been practicing his chops. Nevertheless, Brandon Boyd still sounds like a woman every few minutes or so and Jose Pasillas still sounds like the mutated drum-child of Stewart Copeland and Dave Grohl. What it really comes down to is if you turned on any rock radio station during the summer of 2002 or owned any ( … in my case, all) previous Incubus releases, then you’ll swear you’ve heard this album before.