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(Warner Bros.)

Accelerate is the rock album R.E.M. has been threatening to make for about twenty years. Automatic for the People was supposed to rock, but ended up being mostly acoustic. Monster was supposed to rock, but the guitar was less crunch and more spacey delay. New Adventures in Hi-Fi had some of their most raw songs ever – actually, “The Wake-Up Bomb” is a predecessor to most of the new tunes – but the album had a lot of weird and quiet moments. Since drummer Bill Berry left in 1997 though, their records have gone from subtle to dreamy to dull, so with Accelerate, the remaining members had a lot to prove.

This is why most of the new tunes are between two and three-and-a-half minutes long, most lack bridges, and very little is repeated more than once. Peter Buck plays his guitar so aggressively that it’s almost unrecognizable. Melodically, Michael Stipe is back in top form, and while still political, he’s still capable of what-was-that lyrics like “Tyrell and his mechanical owl/a moth disguised as a leaf.” Huh? Mike Mills’ signature backing vocals are back with a vengeance and pretty much all over every track. Former Ministry drummer Bill Rieflin brings a lot of experience in manic drumming to the project. Whatever it was this time, be it political urgency, a sense of something to prove, or just that their last record was a complete failure, R.E.M. got amped up to record Accelerate, and it shows. As an old R.E.M. fan who had just about given up, I completely recommend this album.


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Thursday, August 21, 2014 All Contents Copyright © 2014 Stinkweeds Music