Brandon Boyd - The Wild Trapeze

Edmund Townend 22/07/2010

Rating: 2.5/5

As the lead singer as well as percussionist and occasional guitarist for Incubus, Brandon Boyd has always offered strange but engaging songs in great collaborations with the rest of his band, but their last album was released five years and in the mean time, in between tours, Boyd has been sitting on new material. He set about recording this material and soon found he had an album, so instead of shelving his ideas for possible use in future Incubus works, he created The Wild Trapeze.

Acoustic guitars and various forms of percussion rule the album, with most of the instrumentation provided by Boyd himself. However it's the production that really holds the record back. The album is a glorified package of home recordings, with horrific song-ruining distortion throughout. The title track introduces the album with familiar melodies and incorporates the strange but glorious lyrics Boyd is known for (“Stand still like a hummingbird in flight” takes a moment to understand, but is beautifully poetic). The album really showcases the voice that won the hearts of thousands of fans around the world on songs like 'A Night Without Cares' and 'Runaway Train'.

Layered with experiences and personal feelings it may be, but The Wild Trapeze rarely reaches the deep cuts made by Incubus. Boyd just isn't as pushed here as he is with the band. Each song feels too familiar to the last, with only a few exceptions in songs like 'All Ears Avow!' which is hard hitting, clap driven and shouted and the dark and playful 'Dance While The Devil Sleeps'. The instrumentation varies throughout, and often loses the battle of focus to the lyrics and voice.

The main reason this album falls short is the production. The distortion and fuzz on the acoustic led tracks ruin and destroy songs, and it's a real shame. If Boyd had stuck to a quieter approach it would seem more like an acoustic Incubus record than an overlong demo tape. The highlight is irrevocably 'Runaway Train', with beautiful production and gorgeous singing - it may have just been a nice enough release on its own.

Release date: Out now