a return to form

Full Moon, Dirty Hearts (Atlantic)

By Kory Wilcoxson

Once upon a time, INXS was neck and neck with U2 for the perfect '80s title of The Band That Matters and their popularity was unbridled.

While U2 has launched itself into the stratosphere, expanding the realms of both their success and their eccentricity, INXS somehow lost a step. No longer were they on the radio every five minutes, and lead singer Michael Hutchence's mug stopped being an MTV fixture.

But that's not such a bad thing. With the muted success of Welcome to Wherever You Are, INXS had a chance to consider who they were and mull over the cries of "Sellout!!" they heard after the enormous mainstream success of X.

The product of that contemplation is Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, and it paid off. Gone is the trendy, superficial sound that dominated their last few albums. In its place is the thick, meat-on-the-bones songs of their earlier work.

INXS sounds hungry again. "Days of Rust" and "Make Your Peace" flat out rock like a band fighting for its life. Hutchence is his sultry, sexy self, but it's the moments when he shares the mic with other band members, like on "Please (I've Got That...)" that INXS sounds back to form.

INXS hasn't lost any intensity and Full Moon offers some of the best straightforward power pop you'll hear. More importantly, it proves INXS didn't have to get bigger to get better.