Light Grenades

Thanks to the funky-ish metal on their early albums and tours with the likes of Korn and 311 in the late Nineties, Incubus have always carried a faint whiff of new metal — despite the fact that they abandoned any traces of that sound long ago. On its sixth long-player, the California quintet reteams with producer Brendan O'Brien and comes ever closer to becoming active-rock radio's most sensitive, romantic and adventurous marquee act. The title track bursts from the gates at breakneck speed, turning Incubus into a less-psychotic version of Butthole Surfers: Razor-sharp riffage and singer Brandon Boyd's incoherent shrieks smack against a rhythmic tidal wave that swells but never breaks. Then there's "Oil and Water" and "Love Hurts," a pair of mammoth ballads the Chili Peppers might have authored. At its worst, Light Grenades is a little scattered, but when it's good, Incubus sound only like their hard-rocking sentimental selves — ten years after being written off as a rap-rock band, that's no small achievement.