Friday, 20th July 2018. 2:56:13am ET
Artist: INXS
CD Title: Switch
Label: Epic
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 12/20/05

Band loves lead singer. Band loses lead singer. Band picks new lead singer through blatantly commercial yet very entertaining reality show with the help of Dave Navarro. Yes, it's a timeless tale. Now Australia's own INXS are back with Switch, their first new studio album since the death of iconic frontman Michael Hutchence. Undeniably destined to call forth comparisons between Hutchence and new vocalist JD Fortune, the 11-song album is, surprisingly, more consistent than some of the band's 90s work albeit not flawless.

The album leads with its best. The great bass-driven, horn-accented, danceable rock of "Devil's Party" provides an excellent introduction complete with catchy chorus hook, while the following "Pretty Vegas", the lead single that really needs no introduction, is even catchier and more energetic. "Afterglow", while a lovely ballad and one of the best tracks on the disc, suggests that the band may have been listening to The Joshua Tree a bit too much. "Hot Girls", while a bit lyrically silly, is a strong, distorted, hook-laden rocker.

What follows, for the most part, through the middle of the album is a bit less exceptional yet still quite good. "Perfect Strangers", for example, supplements its less memorable funk verse for a great pop chorus, while the band show their veteran songwriting chops on the mellow rock number "Remember Who's Your Man". The up-tempo retro wave of "Hungry" throws prominent synth layers into the rhythmic mix. The reggae overtones of "Never Let You Go", while an obvious attempt at stylistic diversification, makes for a nice pop outing. "Like It or Not" is a speedy classic rock-influenced number, while "Us" is a spectacularly emotional, uplifting track that begins an album-closing one-two punch. The second punch is, of course, the beautiful album-closing "God's Top Ten", a lovely tribute to Michael Hutchence featuring guest vocals from RockStar INXS favorite Suzie McNeil that's another of the disc's best.

In the end, Switch isn't necessarily consistent, but, overall, is one of the strongest albums the band has released in quite some time, and, as much as I hate to admit it, Fortune does a fairly good job of filling Hutchence's shoes. While the success of the show and new single seems to have, according to plan, brought a new generation of listeners onboard, those long-time fans miffed about the band replacing Hutchence or the reality show commercialism may want to put their reservations aside and give this one a listen.


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