It’s Wham! All over again, innuendo and all. After two multi-platinum albums and three gold singles, Aussie Euro-pop duo Savage Garden called it quits and the group’s vocalist, the limelight-lovin’ Darren Hayes, set his sights on George Michael solo-stardom. The result: Spin, a collection of R&B-lite and flagrant pop that falls short of Michael’s enterprising solo debut Faith. Most famous for his work with Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff’s production on Spin is edgier than anything he’s done with the troubled diva but it’s far less engaging. The pop-tarty “Creepin’ Up On You” is less earnest and far creepier than the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” (“Drinking from a glass that you left on the bar/Follow you around, driving home in your car”), while “Dirty” sounds more like an adult-skewed track from ‘Nsync’s Celebrity than “I Want Your Sex.” For fans of Savage Garden’s first hit, “I Want You,” there’s the socially-conscious title track and “Crush (1980 Me),” an ‘80s throwback that’s more throwaway ‘87 than retro ‘80 but fun all the same. For those who crave the group’s biggest hits (the soggy ballads “Truly, Madly, Deeply” and “I Knew I Loved You”), the lush “Like It or Not” and “I Miss You” should supply a temporary Adult Contemporary fix. Hayes’s vocal soars on Spin‘s best tracks, the slick “Strange Relationship” and the falsetto-filled lead single “Insatiable,” but the album lacks the “chica-cherry-cola” buzz it needs to rise above the pop fizzle.
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