Incubus “Monuments and Melodies” (2009)

incubusFrom the June 29, 2009 issue of The Miami Herald (web / print)

Oftentimes, the greatest hits compilation is a death knell for artists: A sign of withering fame, or a contractual obligation to get off a record label. But for Incubus, Monuments and Melodies is none of the above. Instead, it’s a statement of strength — a logical stopgap before the next studio release.

Besides hit singles, the two-disc, 26 song set includes two new tracks and a plethora of rarities and B-sides. Incubus staples like “Drive,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Megalomaniac,” and “Anna Molly” are present, although Monuments ignores most of the band’s heavier, funkier material that preceded the 1999 breakout album, Make Yourself.

“Black Heart Inertia,” the first single, is surprisingly straightforward musically, ditching much of the spacey, moody soundscape found in most of Incubus’ best known songs. This allows room for singer Brandon Boyd to exhibit his vocal range and songwriting abilities, and underrated guitarist Mike Einziger to let loose with a fiery solo.

Although the second disc is advertised as featuring “unreleased” material, much of it has been available on the group’s DVDs, on iTunes, and in versions recorded live in concert. While most of these songs, including the folky title track, the dynamic “Look Alive” and the surprisingly faithful cover of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” stand their ground against the hits, the out-of-place, half-rapped “Martini” and the uninteresting “While All The Vultures Feed” weigh down the otherwise strong compilation.

For Incubus fans wondering if Monuments is worth a purchase, the physical copy comes with a download code for access to hundreds of rare audio files, videos and photographs on the band’s website. For newcomers to the group, the album provides an almost perfect retrospective for one of the most talented and musically compelling mainstream rock groups of the last 10 years.

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3 thoughts on “Incubus “Monuments and Melodies” (2009)

  1. [...] I never thought I’d see this day. Two of my top 5 favorite bands, The Roots and Incubus, tag-teamed on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to play “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, a song Incubus has been covering for a few years and that is available on its newest 2-disc retrospective, Monuments and Melodies. [...]

  2. [...] tour, (the band’s last one in the United States was in 2007), is in support of the release of Monuments and Melodies, a two-disc retrospective of greatest hits, B-sides, rarities and new [...]

  3. [...] the recent release of greatest hits compilation Monuments and Melodies, it’s unsurprising that Incubus stuck to its best known songs: Six of the songs performed [...]

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