started out as a funk-metal band before segueing successfully on 1999’s Make Yourself
into a melodic rock and pop unit, becoming a steady chart performer in the process. Perhaps not surprisingly, the group’s greatest-hits collection, Monuments and Melodies
, almost completely ignores the band’s pre-Make Yourself
period, focusing on their most recognizable and popular tracks. This two-disc set – one disc for hits, one disc for rarities – should work well for people who have enjoyed Incubus on the radio but never got around to buying any of their individual records.
The 15 tracks on the “Monuments” disc of Monuments and Melodies
consist of 13 hit singles and two new cuts – one of which, “Black Heart Inertia,” has done well on the charts in advance of this best-of’s release. The 13 singles cover the four-album period between Make Yourself
and 2006’s Light Grenades
(including “Love Hurts,” which became a fluke smash in 2008), and although the tracks aren’t arranged chronically, the jumbled timeline doesn’t greatly alter the collection’s flow. “Drive” remains the group’s most accessible tune, despite the band’s critics who derided its trendy DJ scratching and adult-contemporary sound. Stockpiling the bigger hits near the front, the “Monuments” disc loses a bit of its momentum as it hurtles along, but all in all the collection makes the case that only by abandoning their Red Hot Chili Peppers
aspirations near the end of the 1990s could Incubus finally embrace the melodic relationship songs that better suited them and, quite frankly, sounded better than the clichéd material of their earlier years.
Incubus fans will already be familiar with most of the “Monuments” disc of Monuments and Melodies
, so how are the rarities? The “Melodies” disc brings together leftover tracks and alternate versions of well-known tunes, such as a live acoustic take on “A Certain Shade of Green” from the 1997 album S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
Ultimately, the songs on “Melodies” serve two purposes – they give hardcore fans material they may not have heard before, and they allow newbies to realize that Incubus aren’t all about radio-friendly rock ditties. For either camp, Monuments and Melodies
is instructive, providing a glimpse of the band’s musical breadth, but the novelty factor of something like, say, a faithful cover of Prince
’s “Let’s Go Crazy” simply doesn’t have the same lasting impact of an established hit like “Megalomaniac.”
Incubus Make Their Case
Monuments and Melodies
demonstrates that even though Incubus are unquestionably a mainstream rock act, they have the ability to deliver moody, engaging songs with intriguing stylistic twists, which has helped keep most of their hits feeling fresh years after their chart run. The band’s use of atmospheric keyboards on “Warning” or funk-lite guitars on “Are You In?” provided their songs with a necessary edge that nicely complemented their well-crafted hooks. Incubus always did better with audiences than critics, but Monuments and Melodies
suggests that although their brand of slickly-produced radio-rock doesn’t get a lot of respect, they do what they do quite well.
'Monuments and Melodies' – Best Tracks:
“Black Heart Inertia” (Purchase/Download
“Love Hurts” (Purchase/Download
Release date – June 16, 2009