Incubus have always been a great band among a very tired genre. They've been an Innovative and powerful spokesperson for the "rock with a dj" generation. Each member more talented than the next, the band's two previous efforts, Morning View and Make Yourself, were a musical combination of jazzy bass lines, turn table effects, and interesting guitar patterns.
Incubus have exhibited monumental growth since their early days as a funk-rock Red Hot Chili Peppers copy band. Each album lets us in on a little bit more of the depth this band possesses. Lyrically, Brandon Boyd has been nothing short of brilliant on tracks like Make Yourself's "Pardon Me," and Morning View's "Wish You Were Here."
Before the confusing analysis of A Crow Left of the Murder, In their defense, "growth" is only a matter of opinion. After exploring all sorts of different directions, and creating a style that makes them instantly recognizable, Incubus have wiped the slate clean. Whether that's good or bad is yet to be determined.
The album starts as all of theirs do; with something interesting to grab your attention. The sounds that start off Crow are not as much an introduction as they are a warning (no pun intended). The build up to the first track, "Megalomaniac," and also the album's first single, is anti-climactic to say the least. The very stylish electronically driven intro leads up to a very boring over-done grunge riff. By far the album's strongest track, "Megalomaniac" has your attention by the end. It's yet to be seen whether it's the political undertones of the message in the lyrics, or the fact that it's Incubus.
"You're no Jesus/Yeah, you're no f***ing Elvis," shouts Boyd amidst a currently banned music video of images of swastikas, and what appears to be President Bush. The video received their official MTV banning (only during certain hours of the day) in the ridiculous aftermath of Janet Jackson's Superbowl fiasco.
As the album plays on, it sounds less like a band on their 6th album, and more like a cheaply recorded first demo. "Southern Girl," a boring three and a half minute ballad, is sadly the next best thing on Crow. It's followed up by "Priceless," which sounds like it could be exciting as Boyd lets out a high pitched yell to lead the song into itself. But, the song seems to lead nowhere. What is supposed to be the Incubus signature explosion after the quiet intro, ends up being a floppy sounding dud.
Incubus had the right idea. They went back to their roots and incorporated more of their old sound. Unfortunately, the sound didn't work when they first did it. Their evolution as a band was meant to lead them to an album like Morning View, which stands unthreatened next to A Crow Left of the Murder. "Zee Deveel" sounds like a bad Mike Patton imitation, as does most of their earlier material. "Here in My Room," a piano dominated track with much overdue electronics, is good only by comparison.
A die hard fan would happily embrace this mix of Incubus eras. The lyrics are still as strong as Brandon Boyd's have ever been. The delivery and oddly constructed melodies just don't seem to do them any justice. They knew what they wanted, but weren't sure how to go about it. When compared to their last two, or even three, releases, A Crow left of the Murder is just an inkling of what this band is capable of. Crow has no idea what year it is, what genre it is, or why Incubus has left it there alone.