Monday, January 10, 2011

Great Musicians Who Haven't Made a Great Album in At Least 10 Years

Go to to read our first List Inconsequential, please.


Up. Reveal. Around the Sun. Accelerate. Those are the last four spectacularly mediocre albums R.E.M. has released since their last truly great record, New Adventures in Hi-Fi. The band hasn't exactly been directionless since Hi-Fi, but ever since Bill Berry's departure, Buck-Mills-Stipe haven't yet managed to craft a classic album. None of the trio's post-Berry records have been particularly awful, and each album contains a few decent tunes, but none are consistently solid from start to finish, and all of them reveal an amount of self-indulgence and filler the band's 1980s and early 1990s selves would never had stood for. They are, quite simply, average, middle of the road albums by a band we all know is capable of much better.

What's perhaps worse is that plenty of us have consequently lowered our expectations of the band. Listeners and critics generally went ape shit for Accelerate - some even had the stones to compare it to Lifes Rich Pageant and Document - but that's likely largely because its predecessors were so underwhelming. Upcoming album Collapse Into Now is planned for release this year, and maybe we all should prepare ourselves for a worst-case scenario. Today's R.E.M. is like watching a once-mighty athlete gimp through the twilight of a legendary career: despite the whiffs and errors, there's an occasional flash of brilliance, and we collectively still hold out hope for a glorious return to form. - Eric Dennis

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