I've been following the hype surrounding REM's new record, Accelerate, with a somewhat keen eye. I'm not one of those people who scold "new" REM, and canonize "old" REM. While their pre-"quitting touring" output is seminal and is a must listen, I do not discriminate against anything after. Actually, I consider "Up" to be a classic. How many bands do you hear being influenced by those who have influenced them? Bands don't stick around that long. Imagine Pavement reuniting and playing "Stockton Kwassa Kwassa" and taking back the cheekiness Vampire Weekend seems to have lifted from the "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain" promo materials. (Of course, REM was also borrowed mixer Nigel Godrich, Radioheads' producer, which could explain a lot!)
The next album, "Reveal," was entertaining, and showed hints of the band looking backwards into their own catalog for inspiration. But by the time "Around The Sun" landed, I couldn't take it. The songs plodded, while the production seemed grafted from a David Gray album. It was obviously dialed in. REM is a corporation (any band lasting over 25 years is as hard to disband as Bear Stearns) and I was suspicious that this lugubrious album was it!
BUT WAIT, there's more. REM's not dead.
"Supernatural Superserious" sounds like dinosaurs awakening. Moreover, REM is deeply entrenched in Warner Brothers. There won't be many albums released this year that get this much of a push, a practice that evokes a sort of nostalgia post-modern consumerism. Regardless of what other people think, I like the sound of this song. It's reminiscent of "New Adventures in Hi Fi," coincidentally (?) my favorite REM album (!)
ps- I could really go for a Pavement reunion, though would prefer them to leave all vampires out of it.