Incubus - Make Yourself (retro review) (Cover Artwork)


Make Yourself (retro review) (1999)


Incubus appear to be one of those bands that can transcend fan bases. You scan the crowd of an Incubus gig, the attendees can vary from hardcore and metal fans, to surfer bros, and perhaps even that bizarre but endearing high school teacher that had dreadlocks in the early 90’s. In any event, Incubus are an interesting band that have had an interesting career. Although sonically different, I find quite a few similarities between Incubus and Deftones. Both bands emerged from a budding nu-metal scene and managed to grow and mature into significant and unique entities that have remained true to their experimental origins despite some mainstream success. In addition, both Incubus and Deftones make up the surprisingly few bands who successfully shed their nu-metal origins to mature and develop into the memorable rock bands they are today.

I have enjoyed Incubus since the early days with the rather goofy release of Fungus Amongus (I know, I know), and remain a fan of the band’s most recent offering from 2017, 8. That being said, Make Yourself was the album that catapulted the band from oddball nu-metal openers to a stadium rock band. What is most attractive about Incubus, and their follow up albums Morning View and A Crow Left of The Murder, is that despite incorporating more accessible and catchy rock-oriented harmonies the band remained true to their original influences. The band never did away with their experimental edge, they continued to insert odd time signatures, heavy riffs and wordy-poetic lyrical verses throughout the entirety of the bands career thus far. Incubus have remained organic and natural and have avoided descending into the mainstream mediocrity of over production and audience pandering.

Make Yourself expertly flows from melodic rock anthems such as “Drive” into heavier outings such as “Pardon Me” and back into experimental space rock territory with “The Warmth” and “Stellar”. The production value of Make Yourself is near perfect with punchy and articulate drum sounds, layered distortion and effects and a pitchy clarity that nicely emphasizes the recurring vocal harmonies and complicated verses. The one negative aspect of not only Make Yourself, but much of the Incubus catalogue is oversaturation of DJ scratching and sampling. It is done tastefully at times, but I would be interested to experience the sonic effect of the band without the Limp Bizkit rap rock flair.

Incubus have managed to avoid one-hit wonder status with the massively successful radio airplay “Drive” created and have continued to produce unique and memorable output. Throughout the bands’ two-decade career Incubus has put out some amazing music, but the predecessor to all of it was Make Yourself. With this record the band finally found the right recipe to mix all their influences together from funk, metal, rock, rap, and punk rock without feeling heavy handed and somewhat disorganized. Make Yourself has aged gracefully and continues to create nostalgia for a pleasantly familiar decade while simultaneously being ahead of its time.