H. Jin | Melbourne, Australia | 06/20/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Taken on its own merits, 'X' is pretty good. But as a follow-up to the critical and commercial smash 'Kick', the album is a bit of a let down.
The problem is that INXS clearly want to hold on to their casual 'Kick' fans, so they play it very safe. Almost too safe; the pop elements are pushed to the fore and the production is slick, flattening everything down so it won't make a mess. Not a note or lyric is out of place, even Kirk's saxophone is deemed too intrusive for most songs! And the songs are safe as well, all clearly designed for commerical radio play, with little of the quirkiness or subtlety that characterises INXS' best work.
Of the tracks here, "Suicide Blonde" and "Disappear" are the two clear highlights, while "By My Side" is another under-rated gem. Those apart, "Bitter Tears" has a strong Louie-Louie stomp, and the sharp harmonica blasts liven up "Who Pays The Price" a bit, but there's not a great deal else to take away from this.
Unfortunately, the timidity of this album would only be emphasised within a year, when grunge and alternative rock suddenly made INXS look very dated. In this context, 'X' was the start of the band's decline, and it's hard not to wish they'd made this album more like 'Welcome to Wherever You Are' to keep them relevant in the early 90's."