Ten years ago, I made the amazing discovery that is Incubus. I remember it was when our TV was busted for a week, I had nothing to do on the Internet (cue sigh of disbelief), and the only option for entertainment was our old radio. I never used to listen to FM stations because I was lame like that. And the only music I used to listen to were the ones my brothers listened to. I didn’t have my own favorite band, someone I could proudly say I discovered and to which I could attest pure greatness.
Until I heard Incubus’ Wish You Were Here on the radio one night. It sounded so different from everything else. It felt like the singer was saying something very important, but he wasn’t saying it bluntly. He was showing me exactly how he felt. This guy was a storyteller.
I dig my toes into the sand
The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds
Strewn across a blue blanket
I lean against the wind
Pretend that I am weightless
And in this moment I am happy
And in that moment, I was, too. Because I knew I finally found my favorite band. Brandon Boyd’s use of metaphors drew me to the band. The sky resembling a back-lit canopy with holes punched in it? Do you realize how beautifully he paints an image? Other singers just say that the sky is full of stars. Not him. He says it the way he sees it, and how he wants you to see it, too.
Then there’s Nice to Know You. Better than Geller watching bending silver spoons? Deeper than the deepest Cousteau would ever go? Seriously, who puts Uri Geller and Jacques Cousteau in song lyrics as a point of reference for something monumental that happened to you? I decided that this band was something else. I was intrigued. I got the album.
Then I heard Echo. Holy shit. I’ve never been captivated by a love song before, which by the way, it totally is. Only he wasn’t saying the same things thousands have said before. The song was quiet, his voice was endearing, and the words were poignant.
There’s something about the look in your eyes
Something I noticed when the light was just right
It reminded me twice that I was alive
And it reminded me that you’re so worth the fight
It was poetry in motion. It was fluid and emotional. I had to know more. I needed to hear more of Incubus. And so began my ten-year appreciation (NOT groupie-like obsession) of the band.
I think it’s amazing that they keep changing their sound. Other people hate that about them. I love it because it’s like listening to different bands but loving all nonetheless and knowing that you will get the same poetic fluidity that you love. At least, for me, that’s how it is.
I love even the noisier stuff because the grittiness of the songs goes perfectly well with the lyrics. “To resist is to piss in the wind!” declares Brandon in Out From Under. “Too bad the things that make you mad are my favorite things,” he taunts in Favorite Things. “Should I apologize if what I say burns your ears and stains your eyes?” he asks, seething, in Glass.
It has been ten years, and although my musical repertoire has significantly broadened, I don’t think there is anything quite like Incubus. I’ve made my choice and I stand by it. I can finally attest to pure greatness that is Incubus’ music.
Live long and prosper, Brandon Boyd. And happy birthday! 🙂