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Album Reviews

R.E.M.: Accelerate

By Vasundhara Singh | September 1, 2008

Split Magazine: R.E.M.R.E.M recently came out with its 14th studio album, ‘Accelerate’, and once again draws millions back to its lost charm. I guess this is, to some extent, a comeback album after the pitiful botch of their previous effort ‘Around the Sun’. R.E.M. has been vying to score a hit album as good as Monster and New adventures in Hi-Fi, since the departure of their drummer Bill Berry. Back then, Michael Stipe referred to the band as a “three-legged dog”. But, after a long struggle, they definitely have created a masterpiece.

In the entire 11-song-long album, my heart goes out to “Houston”, which is dedicated to the victims of the disastrous hurricane Katrina. The lyrics and the feel of the song are incredibly pleasing, not to forget the candidly splendid vocals by Stipe, helped along by equally commendable performances from Peter Buck (lead guitar), Bill Rieflin (drums) and Mike Mills (bass guitar). “Man-Sized Wreath” has a more retro feel to it. “Living Well Is the Best Revenge” is definitely an ideal opening song to the album as it pulls the listeners back to the time when R.E.M. was at the pinnacle of its musical career.

The album also isn’t one of those that go on and on with random songs about the insignificant bits and bobs of life. It is concise and lasts for 32 minutes, making “Until the Day Is Done” the longest song on ‘Accelerate’. Tracks like “Mr. Richards” interpret indistinct and stolid narrations bringing back the aggressiveness and indomitable dedication with which R.E.M. started off. “Horse to Rush” and “I’m Gonna DJ” are totally experimental and evidently something new by the band. R.E.M. has definitely stuck to its roots and at the same time wavered towards new sounds.

On the whole, the album is undeniably worth a listen and is appreciable, as compared to the band’s previous two albums. R.E.M. still needs to go that extra mile to regain its lost glory, and ‘Accelerate’ is a major stepping stone along that path.

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