- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

Incubus

A Crow Left of the Murder

Epic/Immortal Records

The alt-metal band Incubus appears on the cover of its fifth album, “A Crow Left of the Murder,” like an icon of some forgotten, disbanded Marxist liberation front. Seems the boys, perhaps emboldened by the popular success of their last release, have gotten serious.

I see DJ Kilmore credited in the liner notes, but I heard nary a scratch from the turntable corner. The fun and games are over.

“Crow” never works itself into a Rage Against the Machine frenzy or Boots Riley propaganda; it doesn’t engage explicitly in topicality.

Instead, singer-lyricist Brandon Boyd abstractly complains of daytime television (“Talk Show on Mute”), in which he finds shades of George Orwell’s “1984”; national security paranoia (“Agoraphobia”); and someone who could be President Bush (“Megalomaniac”).

There’s nothing more tedious than the sophomoric mentality of partial enlightenment, which inspires self-congratulation and sermonizing.

Mr. Boyd learned pacifist poetry from Cliff’s Notes: “My secret arsenal / is an infinite, ageless inkwell / It’s a fountain of youth / and a patriot’s weapon of choice,” he sings on “Pistola.”

“I heard a word from on high / glare like a light in the sky / It said, ‘Quit blowing each other up,’” goes “Made for TV Movie.”

The pomposity is no good for the sonically appealing “Crow,” which was produced by the always-better-than-his-clients Brendan O’Brien and is packed with interesting guitar work from Michael Einziger, who has an obvious flair for funk-metal riffing and a modest curiosity about jazz guitar.

He’s the saving grace of a bloated hourlong album that recycles the quiet-then-loud arrangement cliche about 14 times too many.

Twice, on “Megalomaniac” and “Beware! Criminal,” Mr. Boyd quotes the melody from Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie.”

I don’t care what you’re singing about; if Richard Page is your inspiration, you have forfeited your credibility.

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