Can you believe 2015 was seven years ago?? I certainly can’t. Shockingly, that’s how long ago it was when I talked about this band on the blog. That’s a ‘shame on me’ situation, as their music is outstanding. I referenced in my last post how they’re a bit “genre-less”, but that craziness is exactly why their fanbase is so loyal.
We looked at Incubus and how they got started in 1991 in California before. Then we dove into their third studio album which was a really solid effort. Today we’re going to listen to their fourth studio release that followed two years later.
After their third album’s success, Incubus decided to take a little break in 2001 and headed out to a beachside mansion in Malibu. The whole idea was to find a place of solitude in order to record the next record. That move would prove fortuitous for reasons we’ll discuss later. After their break, they jetted off to Europe to tour—including at the Area 1 Festival that included such iconic acts as Moby, Outkast and Nelly Furtado. And while that mix of music sounds eclectic, that more or less sums up Incubus and their style. A little bit of everything, with some of the most interesting lyrics in the business. Needless to say, they blended right in.
Let’s get back to their Malibu days. They recorded on a street called “Morning View Drive”. Former bassist Dirk Lance noted the band needed to get to a more creative place—one where they would simply drive up and know it was going to be productive day. Their Malibu mansion fit the bill. It was a such a perfect location, they’d arrive each day invigorated and would exclaim, “Ah, Morning View. It’s time to rock!!” So Morning View hit shelves in October of 2001.
The album covers everything from ambient rock to aggressive rock to groove music. It might be a bit softer than previous Incubus records, but still was all across the board. They brought in random Chinese instruments like the pipa and played a track accompanied by a Japanese orchestra. That track also featured frogs croaking outside the Malibu beach house. And if you think that weirdness would detract from sales, you’d be incorrect. Ten million sold to date worldwide, their highest-selling album in the group’s history.
I was shocked to read critics were a bit puzzled by this record. While most loved it and gave it rave reviews, some commented on Incubus being too “generic” and not carving out their own identity like other big names at the time, mainly System of a Down. Comparing those two bands is beyond foolhardy, but I’ll let it slide. Four commercial singles off the album are still in heavy rock rotation today, and my favorite personal track didn’t even get released. It debuted No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and in 2005, was ranked 374 in the top 500 of all time. “Wish You Were Here” ended up being a pre-released single and video, which would become even more popular and heavily played post the 9/11 terrorist attacks. MTV, VH1 and MuchMusic services were playing that song hourly during the aftermath. It would ultimately stay on the charts with various new singles through most of 2002, which speaks to the longevity of the album and the wide array of good tunes.
Putting an Incubus album into words is like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Their music is really good, and different. So, if putting out solid music that doesn’t sound like anyone else isn’t carving a niche, then I guess the band shouldn’t have been so popular. Since they’re still making music and selling albums today, I’d say they did it right. And in this moment I am happy, happy.
Top 3 Tracks:
- Nice To Know You
- Wish You Were Here