I posted this on another music site and on my blog earlier and then realized I should post it here. LOL Guess I'm almost done lurking. ;)
My all-time favorite band is back and they're rocking hard for a bunch of 'old guys.' I can say that because I am an 'old gal' myself. I've been following this band since they first hit the college radio scene with their E.P. Chronic Town. The distinctive voice of Michael Stipe, the melodic bass of Mike Mills, the jangly guitar of Peter Buck and the steady rhythm of Bill Berry holding it all together. Many a late night was spent listening to this band as I crammed for a final or worked on a final project. Twenty-some odd years later I'm still listening to them late at night as I try and get a story - or review in this case - done by deadline.
This time out with their fourteenth studio album, R.E.M. has come back rocking. Perhaps it's to prove they aren't dead yet. After their last release, Around the Sun, proved to be a disappointment to many fans, R.E.M. seems to have returned invigorated. They've returned to the more rock-oriented sound of their early years when they were a band of four young college students driving the alternative college music scene into the mainstream - for better or worse depending on your point of view.
Accelerate certainly does live up to its hype and literal definition. The first single, Supernatural Superserious, is a fast paced, back to basics song for the band. Stipe touches on teenage angst and insecurities. It's not my favorite song on the record but it did make me sit up and take notice. It does give you an inkling of what the album's overall sound is like.
Not that all the songs are all out rockers. You do have the haunting Until the Day Is Done. A rather sad commentary on the state of our union. "The battle's been lost, the war is not won, An addled republic, a bitter refund, The business first flat earthers licking their wounds, The verdict is dire, the country's in ruins." There are more political jabs in Houston. "If the storm doesn't kill me the government will," sings Stipe in obvious reference to the Hurricane Katrina debacle.
My personal favorite is Hollow Man. It's starts off softly and then turns into a mid-tempo rocker with a fabulous chorus - "Believe in me, believe in nothing, Corner me and make me something, I've become the hollow man, Have I become the hollow man I see?"
I've tried not to read too many reviews for this album so as not to taint my perspective but it's hard to avoid the headlines and it seems this album is being received well by critics. While I wouldn't go as far as to call it the best R.E.M. has ever put out, I'd say it's definitely a step in the right direction. The sound harkens back to their early days but the lyrics are definitely not nostalgic, addressing the aforementioned political themes among other things.
With this album the band sounds like they're re-invigorated and ready to move full speed ahead. It certainly lives up to it's title.