Morning View

For a new-metal band competing in a field of alpha males with pierced, sloping brows, the supple, even delicate Incubus have an awful lot of yin in their yang. Unlike Staind, who require a suspension of disbelief that they are, essentially, macho crybabies, and Crazy Town, who probably tinge their mook-hop with Orientalism so they can score with Asian strippers, the coolest thing about Incubus is the way they come front-and-center with their inner little girl. They've got the tender lyrics, the nonlinear arrangements, melodies you can soak in and neckbreaker riffs alternating with swaying metallic grooves that somehow say, "Love me, OK?" A textbook example: "Blood on the Ground," which rips and swells, and climaxes with a totally rad drum fill. But singer Brandon Boyd's words stop short of violent imagery and treat anger as an inner journey, like an entry in his diary. Two songs later, high above the tidal crash and bash of "Warning," a tiny piano melody floats like a lighthouse with a ten-watt bulb, and in a lull before things get really choppy, Boyd's rusty, burnished voice wails, "I suggest we learn to love ourselves before it's made illegal." It's not just a nice thought, it's the secret to their success: On Morning View, Incubus defeat the dark side of the Force and rage for good.