Slug: rem-accelerate-track-by-track Date: 2008-04-11 Title: R.E.M. - Accelerate - Track by Track layout: post

R.E.M. is sounding like a band again, instead of Whiny Michael and the Stipes.

I bought R.E.M.’s new album last week, and I’ve been listening to it on and off since then, and I’m starting to develop some thoughts. For better or for worse, I tend to examine each new R.E.M. album in the light of how does this album build on / relate to what has gone before, and how does it explore new territory? I’m happy to say that for me, Accelerate does both with vigor.

###Living Well Is the Best Revenge (3:12) Out of the door loud, fast. Sets the tone for the album. Companion tune to New Test Leper from New Adventures In HiFi, barking back at a media that, in the end, doesn’t really matter. Bonus points for the return of Mike Mills to background vocals (or at elast to appropriate volumes), and for Mike and Peter for a return to Document-quality rock-n-roll. R.E.M. is sounding like a band again, instead of Whiny Michael and the Stipes. - 4 Stars

###Man-Sized Wreath (2:32) I can’t quite get a grip on Man-Sized Wreath. Not sure if it’s the lyrics or the tune, but while I can already sing along to most of the lyrics (it’s catchy!) I can’t tell you why. Yet. - 2 Stars

###Supernatural Superserious (3:24) First single, very hooky. Really fun to listen to. Companion tune to Nightswimming from Automatic For The People. Michael sings to the lamenting youth from Nightswimming, assuring that it doesn’t last. - 4 Stars

###Hollow Man (2:39) I love Hollow Man. Following tender mostly-acoustic verses, the chorus winds up and rings out like a 70’s sitcom theme (in a good way) then comes to a satisfyingly noisy spinout at the end. Some excellent Murmurs-era guitar work from Peter Buck (still looking for the specific song I’m thinking of). - 4 Stars

###Houston (2:05) Lovely, dirty organ that sounds like it was resurrected from a swamp, or from a flooded church (a true New Orleans Instrumental?). Also, includes an echo of the acoustic riff from Try Not To Breathe. - 3 Stars

###Accelerate (3:34) Michael’s invoking cartoons (“where’s the cartoon escape hatch for me”), which had me thinking of the Dr. Seuss references in The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight, but it comes amid a fast, full-of-fuzz song that conveys the fear, urgency, and tension in the lyric. - 3 Stars

###Until the Day Is Done (4:09) This is another one that’s growing on me. Followup to Ignoreland from Automatic For The People and would fit nicely on that album right after it. Another politically-flavored song, but is lamenting after the angry protest of Ignoreland. - 3 Stars

###Mr. Richards (3:46) Mr. Richards is a slow, loping, admonishment (beat-down? ) of the title character (who at one point I thought was referring to Michael Richards, of Sienfeld fame, but now I’m not so sure). - 3 Stars

###Sing for the Submarine (4:51) A weird song that is really growing on me, and (IMO) references several 3 R.E.M. songs from the past:

###Horse to Water (2:18)

You’re only as big as your battles

  • 2 Stars

###I’m Gonna DJ (2:08) Somehow reminds me of 1995’s [Revolution]( but without the cool “La La La”s. I suspect it might take the place of The End Of The World As We Know It as a show-closer, but I hope not. - 3 Stars