INCUBUS (CA) — Enjoy Incubus (review)

INCUBUS (CA) — Enjoy Incubus album cover EP · 1997 · Funk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
aglasshouse
The raucous MTV era that started in the early 1980's came to a peak in the 90's, producing some of the most well known radio hits and music groups ever to exist. Alternative music was at it's peak popularity, as not only acts like Beck and Radiohead became much more popular, but grunge also made it's breakout early in the decade with Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, et cetera. But what this "MTV era" produced and promoted more than anything was eclecticism and creativity. Basically, the more interesting you were, the more popular you were (as long as you didn't break into the inoperable avant-garde side of music as that was not exactly greeted with open arms by a TV network).

In the midst of crazy music videos and shocking musical acts came Incubus, making their debut in 1995 with Fungus Amongus. Incubus, for the most part, wasn't anything exactly special in comparison with the rest of the grungy hard rock being aired and getting radio play by the time they arrived. Not only that, Fungus Amongus was an independent record, and didn't see a major label release until 2000, half a decade later. So, the debut didn't do so hot, with zero tracks making the charts whatsoever. Incubus picked up the ball rather fast though, and cranked their dirty funk metal style up a few notches for an early second coming.

Enjoy Incubus, a six-track EP, was released two years after the band's debut and followup two-track EP (Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout Root Beer, the band's first 'professionally' recorded release) in 1997. The intended purpose of Enjoy Incubus is likely to act as a satiation while they worked on their second album, which would start recording subsequent to this EP's release and then released itself later in the year. But it's also likely that this is a testing of the waters for the professional music world by Incubus, as all the tracks are re-recorded tracks picked straight from Fungus Amongus. Although it is debatable whether these versions are superior to their originals, as many prefer an amateurish recording style to a more streamlined one, what is evident is that Enjoy Incubus made up for the wrongs the debut made in several objective areas. It's more dynamic, interesting, and thought-provoking than its predecessor. Not only that but it set in stone an underground cult following that was responsible for sending S.C.I.E.N.C.E., the followup studio album, into a gold certification. It was truly a change of pace for the band- in a good direction.

The main reason Enjoy Incubus is so well, enjoyable, is the music itself. With a simple track list of only six songs, this EP is perhaps the most satisfying and effective release the band ever made. From the parodying cover of a coffee advertisement inviting you to "Enjoy Incubus: the best in hi-fi quality" (which is very representative of 90's quirkiness) to the music, this EP is chalk-full of free-wheeling, creative alternative rock / metal that bounces constantly between a gamut of different themes. The saxophone / brass samples used on 'Azwethinkweiz' especially showcase the sophisticated eclecticism in which Incubus do their work. It is very clear that Incubus is a band that does what they do for fun, evident from the reversed or sampled audio tidbits at the end of each track that are entirely odd and almost out of place. But this translates extremely well into their music as well, especially in vocalist Brandon Boyd's mess of lyrical writing that acts as scat more than anything actually substantial, the no-holds-barred drum fills of Jose Pasillas II, the slap bass of Dirk Lance, and especially the record scratches by Kid Lyfe, which in particular make this EP extremely surreal and symbolic of the time in which it was released. It also must be noted that the "metal" of "funk metal" is not forgotten in the slightest, but it's not exactly always present at every moment either. In fact metal, although predominant, is used sort of like another outside element that's factored into the beautiful entanglement that this EP is. In other words, it's not an average metal release that has constant crunching almost always present at every given time One second you could be listening to a crisp alt rock drive, the next it bursts into a roaring frenzy of manic riffing. It's a release that keeps you on your toes at all time in a thematic sense, so it's likely to register many listen-throughs to totally grasp a solid knowledge of what it has in store.

My personal opinion is that this EP is the highest point Incubus ever reached, and to a lesser extent their followup album a few months after. Enjoy Incubus represents a changing time for music with music that remains fresh and excellent even after twenty years.
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