16 January 2013

R.E.M. - Accelerate


Let me tell you a story. Once there was a band from Athens, Georgia called R.E.M. - they firstly did little quirky albums which slowly but surely got the attention of people and were signed to indie label, I.R.S.. After a while, they got the attention of Warner Brothers and signed to them, after a while they stopped touring and became the biggest band in the world for a bit. Then they started to tour and everyone was not so happy with them, as they were trying to go back to their roots a bit. After a while their fan base shrank and people thought they were not as good. Then they decided to go their separate ways.  OK, an over simple version of event, but just to illustrate a point.

This was R.E.M.'s 14th album, and whilst it did make the top of the UK charts and was their best performance in the USA for years as well (Number 2 in the billboard), it quickly sank without a trace and soon ended up in the bargain bins of various shops.  I must admit I did not get it till a year after it was released, not because I had stopped liking them - quite of opposite, just they were not that high on my agenda.  Now, like all album before they split up, it was announced as a return to form, reviews said it was alright but not as good as either Out of Time, Green or Automatic For The People and ignored.

Which is a shame, as it is in some ways a little bit of a throw back to an earlier day, with a more digressive tone in the music and the lyrics.  "I'm Gonna DJ" is a lovely tune which back to their earlier roots, "Living Well Is The Best Revenge" is a old stomper (in reference to their own style) and it has possible the R.E.M. song ever in the form of "Supernatural Superserious". Once in my head I find myself humming it all day long.  But this album is flawed too, it feels too forced in places, as if they are trying to ditch the Out of Time/Automatic period and pretend it did not happen. It is like they knew they were nearing the end and trying to get everything out, and in the end it has not really please anyone. 

Whilst it is not near their best work - as you ask, that album is called 'Life's Rich Pageant' - but it is not a total disaster either; it is just a little to retrospective instead of looking forward. But sometimes that is what happens and now they are no more and people can remember a little band who took over the world for a few seconds.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there


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