A Crow Left Of The Murder has been eagerly awaited by Incubus fans, and from the opening of the first track Megalomaniac, it is obvious that this is not only a more intense affair than Morning View, but a dose of classic Incubus.
The title track maintains the attack, with the added dimension of vocals in a different time frame to the other instruments.
This added dimension is most welcome, as Incubus have developed a structure over the course of their last few albums which threatened to become a formula for writing albums 'the Incubus way'. Even so, each song on A Crow Left Of The Murder is complete with its prerequisite mix of loud/quiet vocals and guitar riffs, and there is more than a passing resemblance to Make Yourself. This is especially apparent on track three, Agoraphobia, with its liberal scattering of gloriously rich power chords, riff-led guitar, and samples and effects swooping above and around in the background.
Talk Show On Mute is definitely an album track; a little unfinished in feel and structure, but its beautiful production really does save its bacon. The low point for me comes with track six, Sick Sad Little World - it is too repetitive, and I'm left feeling that I could quite cheerfully leave the protagonist in his 'sad little world' to stew.
Pistola must surely be the next single, with its excellent hook - altogether now! - but this is unfortunately followed by the ambling and aimless filler track Southern Girl.
Priceless is a lot better, but again, it's followed by the formulaic; a quartet of fast-slow-fast-slow tracks that run all the way to the final number, Leech. With its driving beat and great mixed pallet of sounds, it is certainly a contender in the single release stakes and is typical of the whole album as a package - a good place to wash the listener back up onto the sand . . .
A limited edition version of the album is also available, accompanied by a bonus DVD. The first segment of the DVD features part of the band's Lollapalooza performance from last year, during which we get to see Brandon Boyd and the boys in broad daylight, warts 'n' all, which is not necessarily a good thing. The footage lacks atmosphere and the sound is not too good either, but this can often be the case with truly 'live' recordings. Having said that, these are not attributes I would normally associate with Incubus' live sound.
The band put in a very workmanlike performance and play well as a unit, something which is perhaps more evident in section two - Bridge Benefit - in which new material is aired as an unplugged set. The songs, though bereft of volume, shine through, and are very good indeed.
The linking elements see the band appearing on white sofas in the open air to answer unheard questions, with rather abrupt editing 'fore and aft'. As Brandon says to camera at one point, this DVD "allows you to make a snapshot," and the photography analogy is certainly the apt for the shots of their studio, cars and surfing exploits. As for the last section, Brandon's Injury; well, a space-filler if ever there was one.
Ultimately, A Crow Left Of The Murder completes the trilogy of 'mature' Incubus discs with Make Yourself and Morning View, and maintains the band's standing in the big bad world of hard rock.
:: Marcus Osborne