R.E.M. - Accelerate

April 02, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Governor X

Every few years a blessed event occurs in my life: R.E.M. releases a new CD. Last year's R.E.M. Live was spectacular, but a poor substitute for new material.

April 1st has been circled on my calendar for months. This was the day Accelerate hit the store shelves. Always good to their fans, the band released the first single Supernatural Superserious early enough to quench your thirst, but not so early that you went mad waiting for the rest of the CD. The wait is now over. Accelerate is in my collection.

At lunch I made the trek to Best Buy and picked up the CD for $9.99 (also out today and purchased by me, Muse - HAARP a live CD/DVD from their Wembley Stadium concert last year). To celebrate the happy event, I treat myself to Indian food for lunch. Then the waiting begins. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve. I couldn't wait for the clock at work to strike something sufficiently close to 5pm so I could legitimately slip out the side door and go listen to my new treasure.

I rip open the package...huzzah! Its so lightweight and environmentally friendly. I would expect nothing else from the Oracles of Athens. With great anticipation, I open it up and see the magic words BUCK MILLS STIPE. Its really here! They included the lyrics too, which is something they have only recently started to do.

The door is shut to prevent distractions, TV is off, and I've got a fresh can of Pepsi. Lets hit play!

Track 1 - Living Well is the Best Revenge - Nice. Really peppy with hard guitars. Almost gives off a punk vibe. Some of the hardest rock they have put out since their college radio heyday. Great start to the CD.

Track 2 - Man-Sized Wreath - Track 2 – Man-Sized Wreath – More hard stuff…excellent. I loved their last couple CDs, but I don't think they could have gotten away with putting out another CD of spacey keyboard sounds. This is going to rock live at the Hollywood Bowl in May.

Track 3 - Supernatural Superserious - The first single...absolutely fantastic song. You probably heard it on ESPN during Baseball Tonight on Sunday. Its definitely in keeping with their more recent rock (what there was of it), but with more of a biting guitar like the best CD of all time, New Adventures in Hi-Fi. Think Bittersweet Me on steroids.

Track 4 - Hollow Man - Slowing it down a bit. Stipe and a piano to kick it off…here comes the guitar, gentle and strumming. Wow, here we go…its all a tease, rock on Peter Buck you magnificent son of a bitch.

Track 5 – Houston – “If the storm doesn’t kill me, the government will.” Gee, I wonder what could have gotten them hopped up to write this one? Simultaneously hard and slow…interesting.

Track 6 – Accelerate – …and indeed they do. Picking up the pace again after Houston, the hard and fast REM is back. Solid little rock song.

Track 7 – Until the Day is Done – Acoustic guitar returns…another tease? I get the feeling no. Heavy, political lyrics: “the verdict is dire, the country’s in ruins.” Easy going and deep. Definitely feeling this one more than Houston. Note: The only time Stipe’s lyrics can be taken at face value is when the band is grousing about the current administration, be it Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, or Bush II. President Obama will no doubt feel their wrath one day as well.

Track 8 – Mr. Richards – Keith or Michael? Does it really matter. No. Who gives a fuck? This song is great. Conveniently, it offers a good example of those vague Stipe lyrics I hinted at a minute ago: “Mr. Richards, your position is a messenger pigeon, left behind when the camp moved on.” Indeed. The rhythm of this song definitely reminds me of something, but damned if I can place it.

Track 9 – Sing for the Submarine – Nice little reference in the lyrics to Electron Blue, one of the best songs of their last CD Around the Sun. Ringo go fuck yourself. THIS is the new submarine song.

Track 10 – Horse to Water – Wow…I just came in my pants. R.E.M. putting out “pump up” rock? Who knew Stipe and the boys still had it in them. Even an f-bomb. Well done boys.

Track 11 – I’m Gonna DJ – This one wrapped up last year’s live CD. I’m sure its about something, but I have no idea what. Perhaps it really is about collecting vinyl. I’m gonna dj at the end of the world!

Aww…no hidden track. That would have been too much to ask for I guess.

Well, there it is. I'm not sold on "Houston", but the rest of this blew me away. R.E.M. is an arena rock band again. Clear a path motherfuckers!