So I FINALLY got my hands on a copy of the upcoming R.E.M. record, Accelerate, due out April 1 on Warner Bros. And I gotta say, after several listens, it kicks ass and even the weaker songs still hold up. As an album, it's only 34 minutes long but a much more cohesive collection of songs than the last 3 records (Up, Reveal, Around The Sun). In fact, I remember making a playlist for my now dead iPod of the best songs REM did from 1997-2007 and it was 15 tracks long, i.e., one good record. I might have even posted it here. I don't know, I'm too distracted to go back and look.
Anyhow, it's a terrific record. "Living Well's the Best Revenge", "Accelerate," "Houston", and "Horse to Water" are my favorite tracks on the first listen. It's fast paced. A lot of reviews will say "REM Is Back!!!" Well, they never really went away. They've been floundering in the post-Berry-departure years (he was a bigger influence in the writing and their sound then we ever realized) and middle-age and getting distracted with all sorts of side-projects. If nothing else, this sounds like the most focused effort REM has put together in years. It's not overlong (like ATS felt) or bloated, and while the production seems not quite up to par with the songs (though that could just be the rip of the CD), it's still pretty great. Definitely look forward to hearing some of these tracks live.
As my St. Patrick's Day gift to you (and by you, I mean probably just Emily and Jerry), here is track 1, Living Well's The Best Revenge. I'll post a few more this week, too.