R.E.M. lacks heart in latest album

“R.E.M.’s 14th studio album dropped nationwide on Tuesday, the first album in four years for the Athens, GA. trio.   Following the critically disappointing album Around the Sun, R.E.M. returns to more rock and soothing tracks which made them a success in the past.”

R.E.M.’s 14th studio album dropped nationwide on Tuesday, the first album in four years for the Athens, GA. trio.  

Following the critically disappointing album Around the Sun, R.E.M. returns to more rock and soothing tracks which made them a success in the past.

The first single, Supernatural Superserious, has already had plenty of airing on alternative radio stations around the country, barely missing the top 10 of the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Supernatural Superserious has loud guitars and distortion similar to Monster’s What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? Peter Buck’s guitars are harsh when they need to accentuate vocalist Michael Stipe’s angst-ridden voice, and play accompaniment to the mellower tone of the advice-driven verses.

Some of the album’s songs have softer melodies, returning to familiar sounds from Automatic for the People’s Everybody Hurts and Nightswimming.

R.E.M.’s new song, Hollow Man, builds from a soft-spoken reflection of a man without cause or direction, to a more modern rock anthem when the singer discovers the emptiness in his life and his desire to change.

Until the Day is Done is another soft-toned track with reflection of how wrong leaders can be. It is similar to the anti-war songs R.E.M. has been known to record.

Continuing the discussion of the pessimistic lyrics, the title track Accelerate is a downtrodden song of mental confusion.

The lyrics are filled with contradictions while questioning how to stop the madness surrounding the singer.

Living is the Best Revenge and Horse to Water are faster-paced rock songs similar to R.E.M.’s 1990s hits, but lack the flavor that made songs like Losing My Religion and Bang and Blame hits.

I’m Gonna DJ has the flavor of The B-52s. It has minimal spoken-song lyrics mixed with a simple but quirky distorted guitar.

The remainder of the songs on this eleven-track album are forgettable.

Warner Bros.’ $80 million recording contract with R.E.M. in 1996, following the successes of Out of Time, Automatic for the People and Monster, have not produced an album of a similar caliber.  

Accelerate is a novel attempt, and leagues ahead of Around the Sun, but like so many of the records after original drummer Bill Berry’s retirement from the band in 1997. There is not enough heart or mainstream appeal with this album.