Like it or not, Incubus is the prototypical rock band for the 21st century, appealing equally to both sexes (they’re likable guys who write memorable songs and it doesn’t hurt that they’ve got a model for a lead singer). Their last album, 2001’s Morning View, was filled with plenty of ballads and mainstream rock songs that broadened their appeal and helped cement their status. The band’s latest offering, A Crow Left Of The Murder, hits much harder than its predecessor—it’s a punch in the face, an album of furious, guitar-dominated rock. Opening track “Megalomaniac” explodes with such ferocity (“Hey megalomaniac, you’re no Jesus, yeah you’re no fucking Elvis!”) that you have to wonder who was able to arouse such rage from the usually laidback Brandon Boyd (Jacko? Britney? GW? All of the above?). It was surprising yet refreshing to see the band choose a lead single that had no chance of getting played on top-40 radio and make a video that was controversial enough to cause MTV to banish it to late-night, even if only temporarily. The rest of Crow rocks just as hard, thanks in part to producer Brendan O’Brien, best known for his work with Rage Against the Machine and Pearl Jam. While Boyd’s sensitive lyrics provided the foundation for past albums, here the focus is equally on guitarist Mike Einziger, whose lengthy solos and crunching riffs are the driving force behind several of the album’s best tracks, most notably “Pistola” and “Sick Sad Little World.” It’s not until more than halfway through the album that things finally slow down, with the sweet ballad “Southern Girl,” but it’s a reprieve that lasts only four minutes—the very next song, “Priceless,” is one of the hardest on the record, similar in style to some of the rap-rock songs Incubus became known for in the ‘90s. Incubus have never made any huge leaps in terms of their sound, but they’ve always managed to change it just enough to stay slightly ahead of the pack, and with Crow they’ve simply done it again.
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