Friday, December 23, 2005

INXS - Switch (2005)

You don’t like this album, at least you’re not supposed to. Every bone in your body tells you this album, on general principle should sound only moderately more pleasing than fingernails on a blackboard.

Michael Hutchence is irreplaceable. It goes without saying, and that very fact is reason number one why this album should be ignored, cast aside, and generally avoided. But for several weeks this summer, thousands of Americans watched Rockstar:INXS like Gapers at the scene of a grisly auto accident in morbid fascination as Dave Navarro and Brooke Burke hosted INXS pompous and generally overblown search for their new front man.

As the field narrowed we found ourselves left with Marty Casey and J.D. Fortune, two very different singers with very different styles, both quite talented vying for the impossible and unenviable job of filling Michael Hutchence’s shoes. We watched knowing that the 2 choices would take INXS in two very different directions. J.D. was a Hutchence clone, a budget-Michael if you will. Marty Casey, the bolder of the two choices would have taken the band in a new direction, it would have shown the world that the band wasn’t going to replace Michael so much as honor him and strike out in a different direction and take some chances.

In the end, they played it safe… and that choice is reason number two why this album should have gone straight to the cut-out bin, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, go directly to that purgatory of all music stores—branded with that ever so undesirable “Nice Price” sticker.

But much like the show, which was supposed to have been a ratings train wreck, being shuffled into ratings purgatory of Saturday night and quickly forgotten, this album is a surprise. The unexpected and unprecedented success of the show is the very reason INXS is selling out their 2006 World Tour and the very reason why this album is actually selling well.

In going commercial—INXS exposed themselves to a whole new audience, they did the ultimate PR move in giving the fans a say in their new lead singer, and it surprisingly paid off in spades.

Michael Hutchence will spin in his grave, die-hard INXS fans will throw tomatoes at me, they’ll accuse me of blasphemy, and condemn me to the stocks—so I’ll only say this once. This is the BEST INXS album since their smash hit, Kick. That’s right, as much as I want to hate this album, I find myself falling in love with it.

Despite all of the reasons not to like this album, if you listen with an open mind rather than with pre-conceived notions and the long list of reasons you’re not supposed to like it—if you actually give it a chance, you might find yourself reacting the same way I did—pleasantly surprised that it IS actually that damn good!

6 comments:

David Amulet said...

I had fully intended to ignore this album -- the whole reality show thing makes me wretch, and I hate the idea of public auditions to replace a near legendary lead singer. But I will have to listen to a few tracks on iTunes and see if these sit as well with me as with you.

-- david

An80sNut said...

I still have to type up my review for Switch but I the disc doesn't want to leave my stereo. It'll happen at some point but I wanted to say thank you for an actual honest opinion of it. Personally, I was hooked on it after hearing "Never Let You Go," "Perfect Stranger" and "God's Top Ten." The rest grew on me and it is a diverse collection of songs that really shows the band have a lot more gas in the tank. I was also happy that Deanna and Suzie both got to put down vocals on the album.

Perplexio said...

Honestly, I didn't want to like this album at all. I was pulling for Marty Casey to be the new lead singer and my wife was pulling for JD.

Vocally, JD is a dead ringer for Michael Hutchence. It's as if the band just wanted to pick up where they left off when Michael died.

Layla said...

I am going shopping for tomatoes, I will find the most rotten ones possible.

Actually, I appreciate your honesty and the fact that you DID NOT WANT to like this album. At least you listened to it, I won't even listen, I can't....I literally mourned for weeks when he died. I would feel like such a traitor listening to it. Why can't they change their name to X-INXS or something?

Ok, because of you...only you...I am going to go listen to JUST ONE of the songs on-line adn try really hard to be unbiased, as you were. I can't believe I am doing this....

Anonymous said...

what a bunch of loseer songs with sophmoric lyrics the album is total crap. 50 year olds writing about hot girls and one night stands yuh really creative writing. what an accomplishment NOT. fortune must have practised his impersonation for singing like hutch and had to change singing style from his impersonation of elvis. what a piece of sh*t he is.

Perplexio said...

Anonymous: Dude, the album and the review are now over 2 years old which is exactly the age you're acting.

I enjoyed the album when it first came out, but now honestly I can't tell you the last time I listened to it.