Sound: A name may just be a name, but it represents a figure. Since the departure of a past member, Australian rockers INXS have continued to use theirs despite flailing it around within in the media and associating it with another musician who fell in love with fame. Original Sin may have no clear lead vocalist in sight, but it does have an obvious purpose. With their second release in the past 13 years, INXS have chosen to continue to their career by not reestablishing their sound, but by reinventing it. Original Sin features classic tunes that have been modernized for a new generation of listeners, with the help of other artists of course such as John Mayer, Ben Harper, Rob Thomas and the unlikely (Tricky, Nikka Costa).
By calling it a "tribute album" that pays tribute to the songs themselves, INXS have saved themselves a lot of embarrassment. Followers of the band will find it difficult not to compare the originals to the new creation and therein lies Original Sin's weakness. "Mediate (ft. Tricky)" and "Original Sin (ft. Rob Thomas)" single out how older classics can be transformed into modern music, whether it's a Latino club jam or not, but they detriorate the emotions penned with each song. Even with INXS slated as the backing band, the material puts too much effort into appealing individuals of all tastes; taking a simple approach that doesn't inflate a track or turn it into a cross-genre hybrid would have benefited the band more. "Mystify (ft. Loane and John Mayer)" achieves this in a sense with production that knows its boundaries and shows the group have some sense of direction. // 5
Lyrics: As an inspirational project, Original Sin doesn't falter in the vocal department. The recognizable voices of an acclaimed cast stand out with energy; each vocalist brings originality with them, but their drive to contribute to the release helps push certain tracks. JD Fortune's work on "The Stairs" prevents the track from drowning itself in it's own rhythm while French singer Mylene Farmer pitches a Francophone verse against Ben Harper's voice on "Never Tear Us Apart", molding a cover built on a Motown feel with orchestral bits. The combination is outdated but it's enticing and proves INXS were talented songwriters in their own right. Reinventing older work isn't a songwriting accomplishment as certain songs weren't meant to be altered, but the invited guests do them justice without tarnishing any names. // 7
Overall Impression: Original Sin flirts with various proclamations: it's a tribute album, it's an inspirational project, it's a contribution to the advancement of modern music. Under all the layers, it's an album that appears as if it's recruited talent to assist a charity. The abundance of guests and goal to attract an all-age audience that thrifts through new age/mainstream compositions overshadows the human nature that designed INXS' material. It still attracts with a few hits among the misses, thanks to the collaborations, but the production reinforces too much effort into trying to add years to a legacy. The focus is unique, but the outcome will considered a sin by even the most loyal fans. // 6
- Joshua Khan (c) 2010