RIYLThe Red Hot Chili Peppers
Tracklist1. If Not Now, When?
2. Promises, Promises
3. Friends and Lovers
6. The Original
8. In the Company of Wolves
11. Tomorrow's Food
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Slagging off nu metal has been anyone’s easy game since the genre ceased to be hip, but let’s not forget that we owe not only Limp Bizkit and Dez Fafara to the late 90s trend, but also some great Deftones records, Lostprophets’ scorching debut and a couple of emo-flavoured modern metal albums from Incubus that still truly hold up well. Both the title and the cover of the new record from the multi-platinum selling Californians implies a daring new effort. Well, then it is not a very good sign that two minutes into the first song it feels like this could provide a perfect soundtrack for afternoon naps in geriatric wards. After the opener comes "Promises, Promises," as middle-of-the-road slice of pop rock as one can imagine. "Friends and Lovers" is again making me hit the snooze button, and these are just the first three songs that we are talking about.
Make no mistake, I am a fan of the mellow Incubus songs off of their classic records (even "Drive," and not to mention the emotional highlight of Make Yourself, "The Warmth"), but I would have never thought that when Mike Einziger underlined "a return to simplicity" as the guideline of making If Not Now,When? that he actually meant penning sedative pop songs with a touch of psychedelia that are simply not interesting. What we have here is subdued, slow-paced tracks with quite a lot of piano which makes them not a million miles away from Daniel Johns (ex-Silverchair) songwriter’s offerings in his project The Dissociatives. Even the likes of token hard rocking songs that gave a shimmer of hope in their last two albums ("Megalomaniac" and "Anna Molly") are missing from here. The only uptempo track, "Switchblade," uses hints of funk and gospel instead of straight up rock. "Defiance" features some Led Zeppelin-esque acoustic guitars, calling "Drive" into mind, but it finishes rather abruptly instead of growing.
The only track with any real experimental edge is "In The Company Of Wolves" where at least the latter section will keep you awake with its eerie, almost whispering vocals and fuzzy, far-out noises. Both the production and Brandon Boyd’s voice are magnificent, as usual, by the way. The other half-decent song is "Adolescents," which vaguely recalls older Incubus and contains a memorable Einziger solo. But then farewell song "Tomorrow’s Food" – basically "Aqueous Transmission" revisited but in a much weaker form – is sending everyone back to sleep.
If Not Now,When? is nothing to write home about. Instead we see a great band well past its prime putting out an easy listening album which best features are the bonus tracks of the deluxe edition. The live renditions of past hits such as "Pardon Me" are the only hints of the band's abandoned brilliance.