Monday, April 14, 2008

R.E.M. - Accelerate: Review

When drummer Bill Berry left R.E.M. following 1997's New Adventures in Hi-Fi, the band seemed to have lost it's way. Though 1998's Up and 2001's Reveal had good songs, they were a far cry from the R.E.M. that wrote songs like "Losing My Religion" or even going back further, "Sitting Still." Their 2005 album Around the Sun was widely panned by fans and critics alike for it's dull, adult contemporary radio feel. On their tour in support of the album, the band stayed away from playing many of the album's tracks in favor of older material. Now, after two best of compilations and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, R.E.M.'s newest album, Accelerate marks a return to form for the college radio pioneers. From the bouncy opener, "Living Well's the Best Revenge," the band seems to have shaken off the dust and gone back to rockers. Most notably, the album features more of the guitar of Peter Buck and a larger role for bassist Mike Mills. Michael Stipe's lyrics aren't as mysterious as they once were, but they still carry a power unmatched in a lot of pop music today. The band has gone back to some of their older sounds, noticeably on "Until the Day is Done," which features an intro reminiscent of "Sweetness Follows." R.E.M. is no doubt one of the most important bands of the last 25 years, and after a few miscues, it's good to know they're back.

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