This Ain’t No Comeback
Looking back at R.E.M.’s catalogue, it’s no wonder why the forefathers of alternative rock were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, the same year the prolific popsters began work on Accelerate. With more than a dozen albums under their belt, it’s hard to say that their latest is indeed a comeback, especially with the release of R.E.M. Live in 2007 and Around the Sun in 2004. The Georgian rock legends never left in the first place; their voice only went astray. Accelerate is instead the band’s return to iconic R.E.M., taking listeners across a well-balanced mix of acoustic guitar-driven pop zest and electronic guitar-laden gloom best heard on “Hollow Man” and “Accelerate.” At times, the earnestness of Accelerate could get overwhelming. The near-cheesy “Man-Sized Wreath” comes close to sounding cheap, but the track is saved with its transitions from shoddy bass lines and guitar riffs to its unavoidably memorable chorus and Mike Mills’ almost unnoticeable backing vocals.
While slower tracks don’t offer much more than Michael Stipe’s reflective lyrics–“Houston” and “Until the Day is Done,” for example–they do contain a stabbing beauty often buried by the album’s rock-heavy tracks, including “Horse to Water” and “I’m Gonna DJ.” The best revivals of classic R.E.M. are found in “Mr. Richards” and “Hollow Man,” reminding fans that Stipe and Co. are responsible for timeless ’90s anthems “Losing My Religion” and “Man on the Moon.” At the end of the day, however, Accelerate fails to produce anything beyond a simple increase in their discography.