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Welcome to REM's 'new direction', folks. It's the old one, thank goodness! Eleven years after Bill Berry's departure from the drum stool it's finally ok for the band to admit that things haven't been too rosy on the communications front. The decision to soldier on was, they say, brave but maybe misguided, especially when it led to the stylistic dilettantism of albums like Up or the frankly moribund Around The Sun. But those who thought that the hiring of Jacknife Lee as producer (Bloc Party, Editors) might lead to another radical re-think will be disappointed. For what REM have done (in a mere nine days) is return to their indie roots and made a fast 'n' dirty album that thrills by its very speed. An apt title, indeed!
The opening chords of opener, Living Well Is The Best Revenge lets you know. Back are the wailing backing vocals of Mike Mills, the chiming D chords and drones of Peter Buck and some of the most impassioned singing that Stipe has laid down in eons. In interviews the band revealed that they'd slashed anything that wasn't instantly appealing. The results are a spartan 35-minute romp through the things that made us love them way back in the mid-80s. Viz: the punk thrash of hilarious closer, I'm Gonna DJ, which comes on like a cousin to End Of The World As We Know It. In fact the only downside of Accelerate is the album's tendency to recall too many of the band's best earlier moments. The folk waltz of Houston could come from their classic Out Of Time mid-period. Man-Sized Wreath could be from Green, such is the infectiousness of its chorus. The title track is just classic REM in any era. Yet when you get to the middle of Sing For the Submarine you realise that 20 years ago they couldn't have taken a song and lifted it so monumentally by sheer force of dynamics. So there's still progress of sorts.
Stipe's lyrics are as politically sharp as ever, with the aforementioned Houston's lyrics dealing with Hurricane Katrina (''if the storm doesn't kill me the government will'') but so often the whoops and hollers mean far more than the more jaded worldview. For, this late in the day, REM have begun to act like a band again. We should be thankful, and not a little amazed... --Chris Jones
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'Accelerate' (2008) is a gritty and relatively short album with a sense of urgency to it. This - along with a fine collection of songs - is probably why it's so good, certainly one... Read morePublished on 6 April 2013 by Torben Madsen
What can i say yet another triumph for the lads i remember when thet were a support act and knew then what stars they would becomePublished on 13 Dec. 2011 by baz
First of all, let me say that Accelerate is a great album: the music is among the best R.E.M. has produced. Read morePublished on 30 Dec. 2010 by Jorge Reyes
Accelerate has a great opener --"Living Well is the best revenge". Peter Buck's guitar hadn't sounded this loud in years. Read morePublished on 28 Sept. 2010 by Jorge Reyes
It has been well documented how R.E.M. un-did their reputation as one of the worlds biggest bands as they struggled to come to terms with Bill Berry's retirement and hence their... Read morePublished on 17 Jun. 2010 by D.Joyce
...And AROUND THE SUN was, if not better - no, of course anything in this world is better than that "thing", everybody knows that - at least not as pretentious and pompous as... Read morePublished on 15 Jun. 2010 by Tognato MARCO