CD Review: R.E.M.


By Taylor Toothman |

What do R.E.M. and breathing have in common?

There is nothing like a good beat, perfectly-woven melodies, and meaningful lyrics to prepare me to take on a 12-page paper or a particularly dull five-hour shift at a job a 3-year-old could do.

With such chart-topping previous hits as “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?,” and “Losing My Religion,” it’s not hard to see that Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills of R.E.M. have mastered their craft impeccably. I can’t imagine not having them in my life.

There’s no question as to who three of the legends of modern rock are. The trio was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and 14 albums in, they’ve still got it. Granted, a few of their more recent CDs haven’t been up to snuff—critically panned, actually—but their latest, Accelerate, is top-notch and is already wowing critics and fans.

Even before the album’s release on April 1, R.E.M.’s new single, “Supernatural Superserious,” had me pumped. Those 30-second clips on iTunes never seem to satisfy my ilk of album anticipators, so I jumped on the CD on release day—crossing my fingers that the clips had correctly hinted at R.E.M.’s glorious return to successful music-making—and was immediately filled with renewed excitement and admiration for R.E.M.’s undeniable talent.

From the very beginning jamming chords of the album, one can tell that the R.E.M. sound is back. “Sing for the Submarine” and “Mr. Richards” are two of the most well-written, real songs in a long time. Nothing can top the random awesomeness of their 1988 hit “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” but most of the songs here give it a decent run for its money.

Punchy, guitar-driven jams fill the tracks, with political and social commentary at the forefront of their lyrics. They always seem to want to know what’s going on, then when they find out, they’re not happy about it. Such is life.

Each of Accelerate’s eleven tracks finds the band focusing on writing music that reminds their audience how great they can be. It is a fabulous reminder of the classic R.E.M. you can’t help but love.

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