Apparently Accelerate is worth a published sentence somewhere because it's better than REM's last five albums, which is like saying "wow, this oregano is better than having no weed at all!"
Five albums is also eons for a band to persist making crap after anything like REM's run that lead from their debut up to Automatic for the People (excepting Out of Time, which was made by cartoon androids). In eastern bloc countries in the 80s, state-supported musicians were shot after only two or three duds.
Alright, maybe that's a little harsh. They tried this time, and it shows. But until they can lure Bill "conveniently-timed-aneurysm" Berry back, I'm not sure there's a need.
NY Times writer Alan Light carefully and but shamelessly covers himself. Let's use a feature from the NY Times's Week in Review Section: The news: The album is reminiscent of R.E.M. favorites like “Lifes Rich Pageant” and “Document,” from the mid-1980s era when the band managed the Olympian feat of being both cool and popular, but it avoids the feel of nostalgia."
Behind the News: Accelerate chucks the keyboards and saccharine ballads for the murky embarrassments of Out of Time and a handful of uptempo rockers on Document. It "avoids the feel of nostalgia" because its songs are weak and there will never be a better REM album than Lifes Rich Pageant, about which Mr. Light had to battle his 23-year old copy editors to the point where he went home and returned brandishing a copy of the album's apostrophe-less cover.
The News: “R.E.M. have been pretty savvy about the new music distribution model,” said Scott Lapatine, founder and editor in chief of the music blog Stereogum.com. (Last year Stereogum assembled a tribute album commemorating the 15th anniversary of R.E.M.’s “Automatic for the People.”) Behind the News: Not so savvy as to find a way to prevent Accelerate from being leaked weeks before the release date. Scott Lapatine was either quoted out of context, Stephen Glass-ed, rendered brain-dead by MTV money, or pretending he doesn't already have a copy stinking up his hard drive.