Reviews of Elegantly Wasted

Brief reviews of the new album by INXS

1. Entertainment Weekly

Finally, a reason to cheer the '80s revival! INXS' latest recalls the kick of their pre-alterna-rock prime. The Jaggeresque vocal yowl of Michael Hutchence, matched to the spiky James Brown funk of the Farriss brothers, gives their new melodies swing and tone. The band indulges in more ballads than usual, not to mention some forced world-beat twists. But the end result should still give early fans what they need. (Grade: A)

2. GQ Magazine

This is an awkward time for the members of INXS; they're a few years past their peak and a few years too early for a comeback. But damned if this album isn't vibrant, exciting and completely unself-conscious about its post-new wave/pre-alternative values. The band's one concession to 1997 is to cut back on the keyboards, but rather than pump up the guitars to compensate, it has left open space--a smart move. The '80 revival starts here.
Bill Flanagan

3. Mr. Showbiz

Where are the playboys of yesteryear? Those eighties bands who, favoring sexiness and style over substance, were once hot commodities, but who now find themselves prospecting for an adult audience? On their tenth studio album, Australian pop-rockers INXS do their damnedest to pull off the near-impossible: score hit singles and establish themselves as a sophisticated unit with something still vital to express. Well, one outta two ain't bad. Both the Stones-y title track and "Don't Lose Your Head" are fine examples of the band's signature Aussie pop-funk sound, and either one could easily tear up the airwaves. Elsewhere on the album, Michael Hutchence and company attempt to dig deeper on "Searching," and they even play around with sitars and tribal influences on the lovely "Thrown Together." But these guys have never quite figured out how to structure a song of any complexity, and while they are true masters of the song hook, it becomes difficult, especially these days, to believe that many of their songs mean much of anything to them. Elegantly Wasted is a decent album, but INXS have yet to express a reason to be heard--only a desire. (Rating: 65/100)

4. Musician Magazine

Watching lesser bands eclipse them on the charts and even say mean things about them, INXS is faced with the problem of longevity. How do you convince a cruel business that you aren't last decade's model when your biggest hit was pre-Nirvana? Well, you could try throwing a large dollop of the Stones into the mix, and you could try coming up with a bunch of catchy songs, cleverly arranged and genrously laden with ideas. Then you could hope someone with power will notice, even if you aren't the next big thing. As in the Eighties, they have lots of talent and not lots of meaning, plenty of hooks and little resonance with anything bigger in society, unless you think sex is enough. Maybe it is. Or maybe they need a touch of U2.

5. Sunday Mail (Adelaide)

This is album number 10 for the lads, and the experienced writing skills of Hutchence and Farriss shine. Tight, well-produced and with exciting flashes of classic INXS, it cements their reputation as one of Australia's finest.
(By Michael Owen)

6.Friday Morning Quaterback (FMQB) Magazine

Premiere Pick:
Seventeen years and 20 million units after their live debut in Sydney, Australia, INXS did some soul searching. "We used to do a record every year, year and a half," the band's Andrew Farris reflects. "Prior to making this record, we found it difficult to place ourselves. We had to ask, 'Who is INXS?' because, in the past we had been too *busy* being INXS to know." Out of that introspection came the decision to record the album's demo tracks on studio equipment, "That way you catch a bit of magic," Farris adds. As a result, 60%-80% of the album's final tracks come from first takes. "Elegantly Wasted," the title track to their tenth studio album, smacks of the hip-shaking cool funk and cocky swagger INXS flaunted in such seminal songs as "What You Need" and "Devil Inside." The album, due out next month, draws on "many aspects of a sound we created," Farriss continues. "Some of it could be us 12, 13 years ago." With a new label and management, one of their strongest new songs, and today's Dance-friendly music cycle, could there be a better time for an INXS comeback?

7.Los Angeles Times

Blending its trademark Stonesy romp-rock with funky dance-pop, INXS almost wins your heart all over again--no kidding--with this totally imperfect yet rousing album. There's nothing wildly experimental about it, but Michael Hutchence's Jagger-ish grunts and groans are very sexy, and the band's overt passion buoys even its weakest songs. But, since INXS (which plays the Mayan Theatre on April 24) hasn't morphed into electro-vixens a la U2, does anyone care?

8.People Magazine

It's not that this is a bad disc. Just unnecessary. INXS has been around for about 20 years now, and the Australian band certainly hasn't lost a step after nine studio albums. The problem is, they haven't picked up the pace much either. During the late '80s, INXS perfected a hybrid of dance beats and mainstream rock that may not have been particularly innovative but was at least a fair amount of fun. Elegantly Wasted has plenty of tunes that would have sounded right a decade ago, like the title track and "Don't Lose Your Head," both of which feature a fluff-ball blend of keyboards and guitar. Yet if you've heard this music before, which plenty of people have, there's not that much reason to listen to it again.

9.hEARd Magazine, Australia

Largely exuding a Micheal Jackson style aura around him over the last 12 months or so, INXS frontman Micheal Hutchence has taken the brunt of media criticism over the group's seeming irrelevance in today's new music arena. Their previous 2 albums, X & Welcome To Wherever Your Are were not recieved particularly well & the band have unfairly recieved a tall-poppy syndrome attack even worse than that of Silverchair. Elegantly Wasted as an album thankfully returns to the excitement & vitality of Kick, in my opinion their shining moment alongside the Listen Like Thieves album. The album opens with "Show Me (Cherry Baby)", which has Hutchence's voice back in scintillating form, the musical backing of a band that's been together for over 17 years showing the experience. From there, we get the title track, which is the track that commercial radio have taken the attack on, getting loads of airplay & a great song it is. For the rest of the first half of the album, the band sound as thought they are again finding their feet, a couple of years absence from the studio showing just a bit. By track 7 though, the band really get into a groove & stay there until the end of the album. Interesting influences start to filter through, particularly with "We Are Thrown Together" & "Shake The Tree", which both show some cool Eastern influences. Nearing the end of the album & "She Is Rising" takes my attention more than the rest, & is my pick of the album. The other really interesting track here is the closer "Shine", which sounds like something of a throwback to mid 70s funk, which usually came from movies & shows such as Cleopatra Jones & Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids. Yes, INXS are back with a vengeance. Whether they'll be given a fair go & get the fans back again, only time will tell. Go ahead, waste yourself on this. (Rating 9/10)

10.Het Laatste Nieuws, Belgium

Elegant Resurrection on INXS' New CD

Elegantly Wasted is the name of the new INXS CD. The group goes further with their already tried and very succesful formula of R&B, pop, chick-disco, rock, and funk. Their 11-th studio work may not sound very revolutionary, but stil contains (again) a collection of fine songs. The first single and title track, you can whistle along to it without any problems. But with "Don't Lose Your Head", "Searching" (with a deep undercooled Hutchence), "I'm Just A Man" (with magnificent blazers) and "Girl On Fire" (lovely beat), the band has certainly a few bangs in petto. With the well known ingredients of funk and synthesizer-rock, INXS has delivered an extremely swinging and fresh album. They also deserve credit for the nice and beautiful artwork of the CD booklet.

11.Het Nieuwsblad, Belgium

INXS Back To Successful Formula

"We tried 3 CD's experimenting with new visions to deepen our sound and not to fall into a routine. On the new album we do again what we do best: exciting, powerful rock songs. Just like on our most successful album Kick from '87." This is the promo talk whereby the Australian band INXS tries to sell their new CD Elegantly Wasted. We have to be honest: for once it isn't some bullshit.

INXS returns to the success formula from which it became a super band. Gone are searched song constructions, the blinks to world music and orchestal arrangements from their last 2 albums, Welcome to Wherever You Are and Full Moon, Dirty Hearts. Of course not because they are tired of experimenting, but primarily those records sold less than expected. On EW Michael Hutchence and Co. do again show what they're masters in: writing rock songs with a head and a tail, funky gituars, good hooks and for the festival public, begging refrains.

A ballad on its time is of course possible. In the meanwhile they prove it is still possible in the 90's: a swinging danceable CD without jumping on the jungle or techno train. INXS makes your legs tremble with grooves that also shook the music of James Brown, The Stones and Phil Spector. The last 5 years has seen INXS passed by fellow superstars like R.E.M. and U2. Thanks to EW these Aussies could finally count again. (8 out of 10)

12.The Top

Four years have passed since the Aussies, lead by Michael Hutchence and the Farriss brothers (Andrew, Jon and Tim), have released new material. In 1993, with the release of "Full Moon, Dirty Hearts", INXS found that their pop/rock sound was out of step with the grunge and hard rock coming from bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. The grunge era didn't leave much room for this band, which has looked like being on automatic pilot for most of the 90s: a few hits with the INXS trademark were sufficient to keep them going after their mega-success album "KICK". With "Elegantly Wasted", it is clear the band is returning to the late 80's glory days. The formula is the same: melodies and crisp guitars, around Hutchence's sexy voice. After a 17 year career INXS hasn't considered changing its approach. The new electronic music movement appears to have only influenced Michael's solo work (he's formed an electronica group in London), and there is nothing to indicate that INXS' sound will conform with current musical trends.

Last, and definitely least, regional reviews from the once-respected Rolling Stone. In recent years, the magazine has gone from being hip and in the forefront of music to simply becoming a corporate entity with no direction and an even dimmer future. Their negative review of the new INXS album makes me want to listen to the new album even more; what Rolling Stone invariably dislikes usually ends up being quite good...

13.Australian Rolling Stone

Consider INXS, a band who quickly into its career existed mainly for profit and to fulfil the 80's "biggest band in the world" greed equation, and who ostensibly did all they set out to do. What could they possibly have left to say? Is it possible for the sextet to create for themselves new challenges? Elegantly Wasted, the tenth INXS recording, commits the worst crime of all. It is intolerably boring. Also, laughably inane, emotionally threadbare and smugly self satisfied. For some artists, music (and life) actually has a resonance beyond girl chasing, primitive chest beating and revelling in the pleasures and vanities of "the good life". Twenty years on INXS have yet to realise this. (1.5 out of 5)

14.German Rolling Stone

Sometimes in 1987 we went to a rock-disco and, as in every other rock-disco, we listened to "Need You Tonight" or any other hit from any other INXS album. It was some kind of "dark-age" when somehow everybody listened to INXS and even the dumbest in school had found a band to smash into the faces of those Smiths fans. We never went to any rock-disco again. Then we heard some news that Michael Hutchence was into something with Kylie Minogue. And we were wondering how such an uncharismatic, hippiesh human being could be so succesful with women. And there were rumors that he had taken so many drugs... The music wasn't better year after year: Stadium-rock with dancebeats, and the 80s never ended for INXS. ELEGANTLY WASTED is yet another new invention or in other words the same old INXS stuff: Stadium-rock with dancebeats, hyterical hyms and sing-a-long refrain, something like U2 [sic!] without God and without inspiration. But yet clever produced - great words, great lovesongs, great guitars. And mainstream as entrance to rock-hell. INXS are the sum of mainstream and don't have to care for the laughs. A song as "Everything" just begs to be performed by another really big guy: Rod Stewart will have it in mind when he works on the next ballad-album. In "Searching" Michael Hutchence performs the Soul-brother (or just Mick Hucknall). This guy can do everything - and everything goes wrong. As everytime we are confused by stylistic confusion and some kind of vacuum. And on this way INXS are absolutely replaceable. But somehow you identify them everytime! A phenomenon. But the title... The title's really great! (2 out of 5)