album reviews

Sons of the Sea
Sons of the Sea
AVOW! Records (2013)

Kindred spirits: Imagine Dragons, Incubus, the Killers.

Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd's voice is certainly recognizable in his new project, Sons of the Sea, but the two bands have little else in common. The new duo is a collaboration with Brendan O'Brien, who produced the last three Incubus records as well as recent releases by Pearl Jam, the Killers, and the Fray. As a result, Sons of the Sea's self-titled debut bears a strong pop influence, augmented by Boyd's soaring vocals.

Above all, Boyd sounds relaxed here. The choral sounds and catchy refrain of album-opener "Jet Black Crow" create an easygoing warmth, while the piano ballad "Avalanche" nearly channels a musical-theater vibe. More interestingly, the duo puts its own bouncy spin on the Leonard Cohen tune "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye". That pervasive liveliness wears thin, however, especially on the repetitive "Space and Time" and the breezy "Where All the Songs Come From".

Where "Sons of the Sea" may fall short for Incubus fans, though, is in its lack of tension. Only "Great Escape" demonstrates any of Incubus's intensity or angst. The rest of the album is fleeting. Boyd's voice works well on the shimmering pop tunes that he and O'Brien have crafted, but ultimately the album doesn't leave much of a lasting impression.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 23 January 2014.
.: Sons of the Sea on