Sunday, January 25, 2009

C'mon, the water's just fine...

REM: Accelerate – From the opening notes Stipe and Co come rushing out of the gate with a sense of urgency that is in no way desperate or pleading, but like a self-assured older sibling stepping into the fray of an ongoing fight, set to reestablish himself as king of the mountain and the originator of the something to yell about. Stipe’s yelp is still well intact, Buck still chops through riffs like butter and Mill’s flawless basslines and much missed backing vocals give songs like Living Well is the Best Revenge, Supernatural Superserious and the title track the classic counter melodies that made REM that much more special than every other jangle rock act. Where albums of the past decade have only given us one or two solid rockers in a sea of side-walking, introspective, are-we-too-old-for-this hum drum, Accelerate tears up the asphalt, pausing for only a couple of pit stops, just long enough to change the tires and take off again. Even then, the brief but menacing Houston and the (early) Drivin’n’Cryin’-esque Until the Day is Done give a sense of engines revving, simply waiting for the next cut into the fast lane. This album crashes and bangs like a predetermined car wreck, guided by a loose control, equally content with a safe arrival or a sudden burst into flames. From their beginnings REM had rock n roll at their roots, they just gave it to us through a different filter, and so this “true rock” album is everything that Monster should have been and yet for whatever reasons was not. To me this is an easy companion/follow up to Life’s Rich Pageant and for those who have fallen from belief in the past decade or so, let me assure you that these Athens boys can still churn out a good tune and a back-handedly relevant message as easily as they did in 1986.

Highlights: Living Well is the Best Revenge, Accelerate, Sing for the Submarine, Horse to Water

Hear the album streaming from

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