Sunday, August 3, 2008

INXS - Elegantly Wasted (1997)

In the late 1980's, bands like U2, INXS, Poison, and Def Leppard dominated the musical landscape. With the arrival of Nirvana's Nevermind in 1991, though, the old school formula for success disintegrated. 'Hair bands' and musical showmanship fell out of favor, replaced by a return to raw, hard-hitting, punk-inspired music. Thematically, songs moved away from love and sex to the more dark emotions of alienation and rage.

Through clever marketing, some 80s bands like REM and U2 not only survived, but thrived in the new grunge-influenced market. INXS, on the other hand, fell on hard times. Due to a rift with their then label, Atlantic Records, promotion of the band altogether stopped in the early 90s. In 1992, the band released their most experimental and powerful album, the critically-acclaimed masterpiece Welcome to Wherever You Are. Without Atlantic actively promoting the album to MTV and radio, though, the album fell flat, and INXS became unfairly labeled as an "80s band." 'When we finished Welcome, we really believed in that album, but we knew that it would be the end of us in the United States for awhile. But you gotta do what you believe in. You gotta roll with the punches,' lead singer Michael Hutchence recently said. A year later in 1993 the band released Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, an album recalling their ska/punk roots and R&B influences. Though considered a flop, INXS refused to allow current trends to dicate terms to them. Whereas other bands were busy ripping off the latest style, INXS maintained their artistic integrity, while still managing to remain relevant.

INXS' new LP, Elegantly Wasted, the band's first effort in four years, is a stirring and passionate album, filled with experimentation. It also, of course, maintains INXS' trademark sound. The album opener, "Show Me (Cherry Baby)," is as hard-rocking as the band has ever been, with screeching guitars and heavy drums. The title track is reminiscent of the band's number one hit, "Need You Tonight," while "Everything" recalls such hit ballads as "Not Enough Time." Though an undeniable feeling of familiarity surrounds the new album, there is also a sense of the band having a new sense of purpose and fresh outlook on the future. Hutchence's vocals have never sounded better in his career, and combined with the rich, hook-laden music of the Farriss brothers, the album assuredly takes its rightful place as one of INXS' strongest efforts ever.

Stand-outs on the album include the experimental "We Are Thrown Together," an intriguing mixture of sitar and guitar, the gospel-inspired "Searching," and "Shake The Tree," a song other rock bands like U2 can only dream of ever writing. On "Don't Lose Your Head," written for Liam Gallagh er of Oasis, Hutchence angrily cries, "You wake up in the morning with a starf*ck for a friend, the things you do are so in tune with what you said you hate," and on the album finale, "Building Bridges," INXS delivers an emotional closer that leaves the listener gasping for more: "Are you comfortable in your skin? When does the strip begin?" INXS has sold over 20 million records in its 20 year career and Elegantly Wasted shows the band is as vibrant and relevant today as ever. (Neil Kothari)

INXS - Elegantly Wasted (1997)
  1. Show Me (Cherry Baby)
  2. Elegantly Wasted
  3. Everything
  4. Don't Lose Your Head
  5. Searching
  6. I'm Just a Man
  7. Girl on Fire
  8. We Are Thrown Together
  9. Shake the Tree
  10. She Is Rising
  11. Building Bridges
  12. Shine (Bonus Track)


Paul F. said...

Unlike their dimwitted label, I never gave up on these guys and spun the hell out of this album (and the brilliant one before it). INXS deserved much more support and we can thank the industry for stalling them when they clearly should have kept climbing.

Paul F

Mark said...

As per Paul F, EW is a highly under rated album. That being said, so is MH's solo album (Released 1999). Absolutely awesome.

Play it loud and enjoy. A bit on the dark side but excellent all the same.


Martín said...

Hi there!

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