This week, we get our first taste of the new R.E.M. record, Accelerate, due April 1, 2008.
As anyone who has ever talked at length with me about music knows, R.E.M. is and remains my favorite band. Sure, I don't listen to them with the same frequency I used to (thanks, in part, to expanding music tastes and collections), but they still remain firmly entrenched at the top of my favorite artists list. And you would probably also know I've lamented the declining quality in their output. Sure, I've "loved" each record that's come out in the last 10 years when it first came out (1998's Up, 2001's Reveal, and 2004's Around the Sun) but upon further listen, each of those records reveals itself as more and more disappointing. Only Reveal remains a record that has any real stature in my opinion.
Earlier this year, I made a mix on my iPod called "R.E.M.: 1997 - 2007" that collected what I considered the best of the band's original output in that span (since New Adventures in Hi Fi and since original drummer Bill Berry left the band). In all, I had 15 tracks sequenced that made a decent-to-solid record. Not bad for most bands, but considering this was a band who has made at least six records that are certified "classics," and the fact that the band has actually released in the neighborhood of 50 original songs in that same time span...well, that's a cause for concern.
Hopes were lifted with the band's "live rehearsals" in Dublin in July of 2007. Many of the new songs found their way to YouTube courtesy of cell phone cameras. While the quality of these recordings varied from shitty to only kind of crappy, you could still hear the essence of these songs in their various stages and the verdict seemed to be good.
Stipe himself has insisted that this is the fastest thing R.E.M. has recorded in "20 years." That would take us back to 1988's Green. While I don't know I agree with that (see: Monster and "So Fast, So Numb" and "Wake-Up Bomb" from the aforementioned NAIHF), the songs certainly are more upbeat than ANYTHING the band has put out since Berry left.
I don't really know where I'm going with this as I could write endlessly about the band, my love of their music, and their decline, and ramble and ramble and ramble...
So I'll stop and just cut to the chase.
The new record is called Accelerate.
It comes out April 1, 2008 on Warner Bros. Records.
It's cover looks like this (via Murmurs.com):
This is the tracklisting (via stereogum):
01 "Living Well's The Best Revenge"
02 "Man Sized Wreath"
03 "Supernatural Superserious"
04 "Hollow Man"
07 "Until The Day Is Done"
08 "Mr Richards"
09 "Sing For The Submarine"
10 "Horse To Water"
11 "I'm Gonna DJ"
And this is what the first 30 seconds of the first single, "Supernatural Superserious," sounds like. Sounds good to me, definitely more upbeat than anything they've done since NAIHF. Here's hoping...still...
EDIT: Here's a story from Billboard. 11 songs in under 35 minutes? Maybe they learned the whole "less is more" concept (see: Weezer's The Green Album).