Thanks mostly to 1999's Make Yourself
, Incubus's mixture of inoffensive metal and spacey hip-hop crosscurrents has quietly amassed salivating devotees. The fivesome formed as teenagers in Calabasas, California, in 1991, jamming out bad funk-metal tracks that sounded a lot like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More. It released a forgettable EP ("Enjoy Incubus") and two less-than-mediocre albums (Fungus Amongus
) before realizing a change was needed. Luckily, the pop gods threw the band a bone in the form of producer Scott Litt (R.E.M.). With Litt's guidance, Incubus married lower-key rock arrangements with highly produced electronic and hip-hop textures, forging a fresh and radio-friendly crossbreed. Oddly enough, the band's biggest indulgence is "Drive," the album's most popular single. It layers Brandon Boyd's vocals around Mike Einziger's syrupy acoustic guitar work and DJ Kilmore's precise turntable cuts. But other tracks, such as the guitar-heavy "Privilege" and the funky "Pardon Me," have some flair. Further modulations in electronica, metal, and pop can be found on the band's upcoming release, Morning View
(also produced by Litt). New tracks like "Blood on the Ground" still follow a straightforward rock recipe, but singles like "Aqueous Transmission" and "Nice to Know You" experiment with ambient, electronic, and drum 'n' bass hooks. Some purists might say the group has sold out. But while the greenhorns in Incubus are impressionable, they're also more talented than most of their nu-metal peers.