Whether it’s a gutsy risk or a clueless miscue, R.E.M.’s decision to release an album loaded up with grandiose heavy-riffing rawk anthems flies in the face of the current trend toward smaller, more personal and direct productions. There are a few jangly throwbacks for nostalgia’s sake interspersed throughout Accelerate, but they’re overshadowed by blustery guitar blather that shouts “anachronism” at every turn.
Had R.E.M. put this album out three years ago, when the songs were coming to them, Accelerate would’ve fared far better than it will today. Times have changed, and those who can’t evolve fast enough will face extinction.