Until The Day Is Done: R.E.M. - Accelerate 2

Until The Day Is Done: R.E.M. – Accelerate

Few of us were prepared for the full-on aural assault of R.E.M.‘s hard-hitting 2008 album. I guess its title, Accelerate, should have been something of a clue, but it took most fans and critics by surprise, with the record being hailed as a ‘return to form’ after the somewhat unfairly maligned Around The Sun.

Was it a ‘return to form’? Personally I don’t think the band ever really ‘lost it’, so while I wouldn’t want to agree with such a back-handed compliment, I will happily admit that Accelerate was certainly a hark back to the band’s pre-world domination days. Not since the mid-eighties had their songs had such an urgent thrust and drive to them, and while they released some fine records in between, this one, for me, was their best since Monster.  Indeed, Consequence Of Sound went on to name it, not unreasonably, as the 37th best album of the noughties in 2009. And you know what? It’s held up.

There can’t be many long players topped and tailed with two such towering beasts as ‘Living Well Is The Best Revenge‘ – so unrelenting in its manner that it isn’t a tremendous stretch of the imagination to envisage Lemmy singing it – and the all too brief ‘I’m Gonna DJ‘ which, despite other publications being rather more disparaging – if I recall correctly, Uncut called it “the only dud on the album” –  is like an almighty moshpit in your ears.

But sandwiched in between those two corkers is a wealth of treasure. ‘Man-Sized Wreath‘ is utterly triumphant, a political mauling of George W Bush and his government that I like to think may just have played a part – no matter how small – in his downfall, given Obama’s thumping victory later that year. “I’m not deceived by pomp and odious conceit” was one of many hard-hitting jibes spat at the soon-to-be-departed Republicans. And I, for one, loved it!

The other singles from Accelerate were full of vibrant energy too – ‘Supernatural Superserious‘ almost borrowing a rhythm guitar riff from Rainbow‘s ‘Since You’ve Been Gone‘ but ultimately showcasing itself as something like a noughties take on their 1985 selves. ‘Hollow Man‘ belied its tender verses with an invigorating Hùsker Dù like refrain that was hard to resist, and ‘Until The Day Is Done‘ with its hark back to New Adventures In Hi-Fi‘s strongest moments – and angry disdain for America’s then leaders – is surely one of the most affecting tracks in the second half of RE.M.’s almighty canon.

Sure, ‘Sing For The Submarine‘ meanders a little but is still interesting enough to draw you in for its near five minutes and becomes quite hypnotic with each subsequent listen before the relentless thrash of ‘Horse To Water‘ comes in like an onslaught to the senses.

Overall Accelerate was the sound of a band initially testing the water gingerly after the critical mauling of – and public ambivalence to – its predecessor, but shortly after starting recording, realising “Hey, we’re having FUN” and throwing themselves wholeheartedly and unashamedly into it. That the band could still produce two minute songs like ‘Houston‘ or the title track here, and imbibe them with such passion and drama, is testament to their staying power and confirmation that they really ARE one of the greatest bands who ever existed.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.