Friday, 22 July 2011

Incubus - If Not Now, When?

Incubus - If Not Now, When?
Genre: Alternative/Rock
Rating: 2/10

Incubus first exploded onto the music scene following the nu metal boom of the mid nineties. Unlike most of their peers however Incubus were a far less angsty heavy outfit in comparison with the other big names in the genre. Whilst the bands earlier material fused elements of hip hop and funk with rock the focus of the music was more rooted in spacey cosmic melodies than the downtuned guitar riffs that were common place for most of the nu metal scene. By the early noughties nu metal had started to die off and many of the big names disappeared or reinvented themselves Incubus however were one step ahead of the competition as they had already started to phase out the more rappy elementsof their sound. By 2004 virtually all elements of the bands hip hop heritage were traded in for a more conventional rock style, a move that paid off.

Following a short hiatus in which time lead singer Brandon Boyd recorded and released a solo album the band have reconvened and put together their seventh album. Unfortunately it is their weakest effort to date. Whilst the previous focal point of most of the bands material was their use of spacey guitars and funky rythms matched up with Boyd's clean cut vocal harmonies the new album sees the band strip back to the barest bones. Whilst guitars are still present on most of the tracks the band have gone for a much more laid back subtle sound favouring ballads for the most part. This makes for quite a tedious and dull record. Whilst Brandon's vocals do undoubtedly suit this style and the reasons for these changes may just be the result of the band growing out of rock the music on offer here is dull for the most part and pales in comparison to earlier work. The sole highlight of the whole album is the recent single "Adolescents" which whilst serene  is very reminiscent of the more introspective exciting moments from previous records. Apart from that the rest of the tracks are so gentle and soft they barely register and as such they blend into one huge beige mess. One of the problems is the lack of variety because near enough all of the tracks are ballads this only serves to make each track seem more alike. Ballads are nothing new to the band as a whole and their most successful single to date was the brilliantly simple "Drive" which reached number 1 in the US Alternative billboard chart but with "If Not Now, When?" they fail to reach the same standard  with no memorable choruses or even lyrics in general.

Overall I was very disappointed with this album. Whilst it could be argued that the band have shown a great deal of bravery releasing an album that is so different from their back catalogue the new sound is so minimalistic and bland that I can only hope this was a failed experiment rather than a change in direction. I would highly recommend you steer well clear of this record.

Download: "Adolescents"

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Vines - Future Primitive

The Vines - Future Primitive
Genre: Garage Rock/Indie
Rating: 4/10

The Vines shot to fame way back in the early noughties with their 2002 debut album Highly Evolved. The early noughties saw a revival of sorts in both indie and garage rock with acts like The White Stripes and The Hives riding high on the charts and winning universal critical acclaim. However like most trends eventually the bubble burst and the critics turned on most of the leading proponents the notable exception being The White Stripes. The demise of the garage rock trend is deffinitely evident from the year delay between recording and release of Future Primitive and this is also notable as The Vines have funded this one without a record label in tow due to recent low sales of previous albums.

Future Primitive carries on from where 2008's album Melodia left off. The blue print has not changed and The Vines still continue to make the same sort of grungey lofi rock that won them accolades in 2002. Whilst many may argue the band should be championed for staying the course in spite of current trends what this ultimately amounts to is a record with nothing new to offer. The standard throughout the album is fairly consistent but the only real change is the use of a few more keyboards and samples which normally comes with a trade off in terms of riffing. Whilst the album isn't terrible it just doesn't have enough personality to stand a chance against the bands previous offerings. Another criticism is the length of the album whilst the Vines have never really made a long record much of the material on Future Primitive fails to even break the three minute mark. This works against the record quite severely as some tunes like the title track "Future Primitive" feel cut short. This makes the whole record feel slightly rushed and when it's been delayed by nearly a year that is a worrying sign. It's not all bad though. Highlights include "Black Dragon" a track that surges with the usual dismissive attitude whilst seeing the band experiment with synths and effects pedals create a sparse dark atmosphere. "Autumn Shade IV" is another exception to the flaws that blight most of the record and a welcome addition to the Autumn Shade series of tracks with its minimalist acoustic strum combined with subtle synth work.

Unfortunately Future Primitive seems to demonstrate a band that reached its creative peak long ago. Whilst there are a few standout tracks the album as a whole is dogged by to many flaws. Deffinately an album to sample before reaching for your wallet.

Download: "Future Primitive" "Black Dragon"