REM, Accelerate (Warners)

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REM: Mr Richards
REM, Accelerate (Warners)

Yes, REM are a Very Big Band Indeed and so you will doubtless be reading reviews of this in many other places -- but the reason it also gets a showing at Elsewhere where they keep company with rather more obscure artists is because I have faithfully bought every REM album in the past decade and have been mostly disappointed.

But Accelerate vindicates the faith.

The criticisms of it are going to be the most obvious -- that it succeeds because it conjures up some of the more illustrious moments of their 80s peaks. But rather that than "hope you like our new direction" which would just have seemed desperate this late in their career.

What is here however is abrasive and energised in places, poetic in others, poppy in parts. Singer Stipe sounds like a man more happy in a world when he has something to kick against -- and of course the current political climate (even worse than the era under which they emerged) provides plenty of sources for seething rage.

But here too is understated menace (and yes, wit and self-referencing too) of the kind we haven't heard from them for quite a while.

So Elsewhere just wants to confirm what you might start reading elsewhere in the next fortnight or so. Old fans could come back with confidence and those like me who might have been a bit ho-hmmm this late in the story might want to check it out.

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