A summation of the compilation of a band that, through their musical identity crisis, have grown so profoundly and so deeply, they have become a monster all their own.
Brandon Boyd is, far and away, one of the brightest, thoughtful, and innovating lyricists today. Many of his songs do wrap around the idea of love, the longing for it, and the search to obtain it. Many songwriters take this aim in their own way, but Boyd has such an intelligence that transcends the cliches and the celluloid. Our beloved Psychostick has a song out called #1 Radio Single. It's a hybrid of old Creed and Crossfade tunes that reek of fabricated and manufactured shit. No, that's right, shit. Incubus, as a group, avoids the trappings of cliche, overproduced pretty ballads of coldness. Boyd is warm-hearted and optimistic in the lyrical delivery, although the subject of many an Incubus song are tragic and lost. Punch Drunk being a prime example of just how clever they are in terms of writing lyrics. We're never certain of Brandon Boyd's involvment in the lyrical process, nor are we sure of anyones since they write the songs in a collaborative effort. At any rate, Incubus manages to keep themselves afloat by approaching their trials and tribulations with rationality other than blatant, flat-footed "I never meant to be so cold" mantra. I'm talking to you, Crossfade, one of the worst bands ever.
He did, and if you asked me, they are the most beautiful and thorough poops ever. Think about it this way. When you have to poop, it's holding itself in, and it builds and builds until you feel the need to flush it all out. When you poop, it's relieving and almost refreshing. You stand up from the throne, and exit the bathroom feeling lighter, relaxed, and like a better man. Or woman. I feel as though I come out of an Incubus album/concert/song feeling like a better man, and the mixture of musical influence on their end is undeniable. Through their inability to maintain a certain musical style, they've been able to explore, and discover who they are as a group of very, very, talented musicians. I have always believed that critiquing music was a little pointless because the critics often have their own style of music they'd like to listen to. They don't have so much an appreciation for music as they do have an appreciation for the technicality and work that goes into it. It is probably the critic's job to remove whatever emotional response they had to the music, and hear it for what it is at the base of it all. My generalization. And! Since I am not paid, and because my boss is allowing me to pretty much write whatever as long as it remains in the very generous confines pluh.com must offer, I can proudly say that my emotional reaction to this album was very strong as I feel as though I can find my way through each song. Incubus doesn't mess around when it comes to their art, which means that every atmosphere must have it's place. Every note, every beat, and every lyric must be carefully constructed together so that when it is expelled into the world of sound, it resonates to a degree in which no casual listener can deny.
Well ... alas, this album is not perfect. Why? Because this is a compilation album, and there isn't a lot of room for creativity when you are creating a portfolio of past work. Monuments and Melodies are full of their favorable hits, yes, but not their best work. For example, Make Yourself has been widely touted as Incubus's "masterpiece." (I reserve that title for their brilliant Crow Left of the Murder.) Make Yourself boasted hits such as Drive, Pardon Me, and Privilege. These songs are great but leaves much to be discovered about the album itself. The good news is, Monuments and Melodies comes with two discs. The first, a collection of their hit songs, coupled with two new, and two very strong tracks. The first, Black Heart Inertia, is an interesting mixture of Incubus's old sound and their progressive musicianship through the albums since S.C.I.E.N.C.E. It is ever-so-apparent that these boys have been doing their homework while on hiatus. Boyd has always been a thoughtful and introspective lyricist, and in Black Heart Inertia, the lyrics compliment the music very well. A good tune. The second, capping the first disc, is Midnight Swim, which is probably one of the strongest Incubus entries since Crow. The complexities of this song are penetrating, and listen close around the 50 second mark. The guitar/piano double produces a sound that is so dark that it crunches under the weight of it's anger.
The second disc is a compilation of b-sides, and unreleased songs. This is where the disc becomes much more interesting, and much more adventurous. Upon first listen, one might accurately observe that these unreleased songs sound pretty updated and polished. Likely because the bulk of these songs were recorded after recruiting producer Brendan O'Brien. The disc contains a couple of songs off of the Stealth soundtrack (mercifully leaving Make a Move out) and an interesting yet inferior remix of the song Pantomime. One of the most seeminly out of place, but still kind of fun ditties is a tune called Martini, which might as well be Elvis Costello's Pump it Up except with different lyrics. Who knows when they wrote this song, but I can understand the hesitence of putting it on a legitimate album. However, the song is still as catchy as ever, and if you happen to be driving around in your truck through town, singing along to this ... make sure your Starbucks barista friends don't see you at the risk of getting made fun of the next time you go in for you Soy Misto ... fuckers.
You're right, I did. It's 11:24 at night and this is the second time I've written this review. Trust me, I like the other one better, but my computer had a malfunction, and it couldn't be saved. I cried. A lot. BUT! I came right back two days later because the job must be done, and word must get out about this album. It's THAT good. As I said, it is not perfect, but it's good enough for me to reccomend to a person who is not yet intruduced to the world of Incubus. If you are having one of those days where you are thinking to yourself, "man, not much is happening on pluh right now, and Isikin's review of UP was way too pompous and took itself way too seriously," do yourself a favor. Go out and try this album on. It's got the basic hits, which basically means you are being introduced to the drugs that everyone has tried, and has not overdosed on. If you like it, then it's time to pick up the nearest copy of A Crow Left of the Murder, so that you can start listening to some real Incubus. :) Enjoy.
|Sound/Production||O'Brien's production is crystal clear, and every musician get's their shining moment.||4|
|Presentation||About as creative as a compilation album can possibly get.||3|
|Originality||Let's face it. Compilation albums are the antithesis of originality because it's about celebrating past work. BUT! The second disc of unreleased songs was a very clever idea, indeed.||3.5|
|Songwriting||These boys leave no stone unturned when it comes to lyrics. They are as intelligent and thesaurus plucking as ever, though always devoid of that condescending feeling we get when we listen to Sting's 'Dream of the Blue Turtles.' ... which I love, by the way.||5|
|Deathy/Heavyness||If you are looking for heavy, try on 'Megalomaniac,' 'Midnight Swim,' 'Pardon Me,' and maybe a few other songs too. Not a heavy band, but they don't really need to be.||3|
|Isikins Worthy?||I would most certainly say so. Not perfect, but pretty good.||4|
|Final Verdict: 3.75|