I'm sorry to post right on top of Eric's essay, but I can't contain my love for the new R.E.M. CD any longer. In summary, it's smart, it's catchy, it's succinct and it actually rocks really hard.
A little background on my personal relationship with R.E.M. I really love their earliest albums and their mid-90's work. Murmur, their first record, might still be their best, but who could argue with Reckoning or Automatic For The People? I also love Fables of the Reconstruction, Life's Rich Pageant, New Adventures in Hi-Fi and Up. (I know it's not cool to like Up, but Tex Plush can back me up on that one.) Really I love almost everything they've ever done (including Monster)... up until Reveal, which was disappointment personified, and Around the Sun, which was borderline horrendous.
As bad as they'd been recently, Accelerate is near total redemption. I'm particularly thrilled with the punk-like energy on tracks like "Living Well Is The Best Revenge," "I'm Gonna DJ" and "Horse to Water," the latter of which can be heard below.
And where there isn't punk energy, there's awesome melodies and appropriately political lyrics, like on "Mr. Richards."
Yeah, the album isn't perfect. "Hollow Man," "Houston," and "Until the Day Is Done" are all fine but unremarkable. But there isn't any jaw-droppingly bad song wrought with self-righteousness a la "I'll Take The Rain" or "I Wanted To Be Wrong"-- lowlights from their two prior releases. The worst songs on this album are merely good.
To conclude, I've been listening to this album non-stop since I got it, so much so that I haven't even had time to listen to the new Sun Kil Moon, which I bought on the same day. Check it out.