Incubus is one of those weird bands from the late 90s and early 00s that captivated the world through their strange mix of “nu” alternative, rock and funk music. Their 1997 album, “S.C.I.E.N.C.E” sounds like a combination of rejected Primus and Red Hot Chili Peppers demos along with Brandon Boyd on vocals, while their 1999 album “Make Yourself,” known for hit singles “Stellar” and “Drive,” is slightly more mainstream.
Today, I’m going to be talking about their 2001 album, “Morning View.”
The nice thing about Incubus is how their variety in sound allows for greater accessibility than a lot of the bands from their era - and this is especially evident in “Morning View.” Songs like “Nice to Know You” have a mix of ambience, sing-a-long chorus’ and chunky guitar riffs to hype you up.
If you’re not into hard rock, that’s okay because “Mexico” and “11 am” provide more pop-like sounds in their catchiness and a lot more of the softer sounding acoustic guitar. The orchestral sounds in the back of these songs also add a level of corny, but still evocative drama.
Think how difficult it would be to get someone unfamiliar with System of a Down or metal music to listen to “Chop Suey!” or “BYOB.” It also wouldn’t be easy for someone to get into Deftones for any of their albums, unless they were already a fan of the alternative metal sound. With Incubus, “Morning View” is easily accessible for fans of rock, alternative, pop, metal and even the more out there experimental genres.
Though Incubus doesn’t have the same kind of technical guitar work marked by something like their later album, “A Crow Left of the Murder…,” guitarist Mike Einziger delivers a steady pulse and rhythm behind the album’s churning drum tracks, which are solid in every song. His guitar riffs are catchy enough to remember and hum with, but also not simple enough to gloss over.
Take the polyrhythms in “Nice to Know You,” “Blood on the Ground” and “11 am,” which have the same kind of progressiveness found in bands like Porcupine Tree, but with far more easy-to-listen-to qualities.
Perhaps the best part of the album is Brandon Boyd’s vocals. Boyd, known for his cooing and melodies on “Make Yourself,” delivers another strong performance with deliberate, evocative vocals throughout all the songs on “Morning View.”
Where singers like Deftones’ Chino Moreno make their mark through raw passion and fierce emotion, Boyd’s more reserved and controlled type of singing compliments the band. This doesn’t mean he lacks emotion though: in “Mexico” his voice encapsulates aspects of pain, regret and numbness.
When I was younger, I never really understood people’s obsessions with Incubus. I saw them as a “jack-of-all-trades” type band: with influences from several genres, but no real standout qualities. However, their variety of musical talents as shown through “Morning View” demonstrates a level of subtlety to their already accessible qualities. While I wasn’t crazy about it when I heard it for the first time, a decade later I find myself enjoying this solid, but unique listening experience.