the Buzz for June 29th, 2008


Back in fighting trim following a one-album crash landing in Prozacworld, R.E.M. — arguably the most influential (if not the most important) American band of the past two decades, and the band whose map for moving from humble beginnings to massive success ought to be certified by Rand McNally, it’s so widely used (look no further than the platinum-plated triumphs of Matchbox Twenty, Augustana, Fall Out Boy, and The Fray — among a hundred others — if you doubt that) — is back, and triumphantly so, with their 14th full-length record, the dizzily edgy Accelerate. Gone almost entirely (save a couple of acoustic-leaning tunes in the disc’s back half) are the languid, esoteric ballads that dominated (and, especially with the latter, quite nearly sunk) their last two efforts (2001’s brooding, introspective Reveal and 2004’s dreary, sluggish Around the Sun), and in their place, a handful of lean, mean, guitar-swamped rock tunes (average song length: just over three minutes) that harken back to the Murmur / Life’s Rich Pageant days.