Wanting to feed off the positive (and successful) vibes of previous albums recorded there like U2’s Actung Baby and Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life, R.E.M. and producer Jacknife Lee (who worked on Accelerate with the band) recorded this album in the Hansa Studios in Berlin as well as in New Orleans.
While the band will probably never enjoy once again the monster popularity they had in the 1990s they still have a substantial fanbase. That fanbase should be pretty happy with their latest effort. Unlike a couple of their recent albums this one sounds like they have rediscovered their passion for and enjoyment of recording music. It is very hard to dislike any of the songs on the album. Though the cheesy “Every Day Is Yours to Win” did test me.
The first four songs on the album are blazing, ferocious, instantaneously recognizable as R.E.M., and feature some strong Michael Stipe vocals. The middle songs are decent. Then it closes off with two of their strongest songs in years, “Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and Me” and “Blue”. The first song is a emotion-filled ballad that demonstrates that Stipe is one of America’s best lyricists.
Keep your ears open for some guest appearances by Eddy Vedder, Peaches and Patti Smith.