The long-awaited follow-up to 2011's If Not Now, When?, 8 is the aptly named eighth studio long-player from the mercurial, Southern California-based hard rock/ex-nu-metal quintet. Co-produced by EDM/dubstep heavyweight Sonny John Moore, better known by his stage name, Skrillex, the 11-track set dials back on the synth-heavy, AAA pop/rock stylings of their previous outing in favor of a more streamlined, guitar-driven approach that should please fans of their earlier work. Front-loaded with a trio of in-your-face, melodically and emotionally charged haymakers ("No Fun," "Nimble Bastard," and the radio-ready "Glitterbomb"), 8 gets off to a rowdy start before exploring moodier territory on the brooding and anthemic "Undefeated" and the dark, electro-charged "Loneliest." A seemingly random foray into improvised camp, the just-under-a-minute-long "When I Become a Man" offers up a bit of levity, but those offbeat vibes are rendered largely inert by its introspective successor, the fractured "Familiar Faces." On first spin, 8 hits a lot of familiar beats, but given time to unfold, later cuts like "Love in the Time of Surveillance" and the nervy, angsty closer reveal some decidedly complex layers of sonic architecture. Toss in the requisite instrumental, the all-atmosphere "Make No Sound in the Digital Forest," and you've got a pretty solid Incubus record in your hands, albeit one that won't win over any of the group's detractors.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger