Tuesday, April 01, 2008


We will take LL Cool J’s advice and not call it a comeback but we will nod in hearty approval as REM turn their amps up to 11 and put out a seriously rocking, seriously entertaining disc. There isn’t much musical subtlety here (if you like your REM more in the vein of the more stately and subdued Automatic for the People than in the vein of the rock fervor of, say, Murmur you might be a bit put off by this CD) but man this sucker packs some serious kick.

The members of the band seem thoroughly engaged, the playing is tight and focused throughout, and Michael Stipe is in fine voice as well. This being REM, the lyrics are sometimes a bit enigmatic but it’s all good.

Accelerate hits the ground running with the biting and bracing 1-2-3 punch of “Living Well is the Best Revenge”, the acerbic “Man-Sized Wreath”, and the bittersweet “Supernatural Superserious” (see below), a trio of beefy rockers featuring dense guitars, throbbing bass, rock steady drums, and potent vocals and harmonies.

After that furious start, the next track, “Hollow Man”, starts out as a gentle piano ballad but the guitars kick in to drive it hard before it returns to a quieter space and returns again to being a driving rocker. Houston”, evoking the spirit of Katrina refugees discovering new possibilities, is a thought-provoking mid-tempo standout while the driving title track, a clarion call to looking forward rather than backward, locks into a solid propulsive groove and doesn’t let go.

“Until the Day is Done” is a gentle, yearning, almost lilting, song that harkens back to Out of Time and Automatic for the People in tone.

The CD concludes with four potent rockers including the vaguely ominous “Mr. Richards”, the rueful but soaring “Sing for the Submarine”, the snarling “Horse to Water”, and the cheeky “I’m Gonna DJ” (the last being a companion piece of sorts to “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”.)

Accelerate is the sound of REM as a balls-to-the walls rock and roll band and hey even if the gentler Automatic is my favorite REM record (and it is), this definitely still works for me.

1 comment:

pXr said...

I'm also an REM fan. My thinking is the older the better when it comes to their tunes.