Picks and Pans Review: X
From the first notes of “Suicide Blonde,” an electrifying song that gets a further jolt of wattage courtesy of Andrew Farriss’s outstanding harmonica work, you know you’re under attack once again from INXS.
The Australian sextet are deadly practitioners of precision bombing. Their music, unlike that of most rockers, trades on clarity rather than density. Aurally it’s more like getting hit with shards of glass than having a safe dropped on you.
Be forewarned, though. Aside from the riot tones of “Who Pays the Price” and the slam bang “Bitter Tears,” this is a more mature and restrained outing than 1987’s Kick. The approach works sometimes, as on “By My Side,” with its dynamic surges of volume, and “Faith in Each Other,” on which singer Michael Hutchence testifies from the electric pulpit. But there’s too much posturing. “The Stairs,” for instance, sounds like U2 drained of passion. It’s inexcusable that INXS doesn’t express more excess on X. (Atlantic)