Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20: R.E.M. "New Adventures In Hi-Fi"

Artist: R.E.M.
Album: New Adventures In Hi-Fi
Year: 1996
Label: Warner Bros.

When a band releases a monster album (pun intended), it is often the case that their next album falls far below the radar. Sadly, this is the case with R.E.M.'s brilliant 1996 release, New Adventures In Hi-Fi.

Reordered in brief studio sessions throughout the world as well as during soundchecks during their tour supporting their album Monster (get the pun now?), Hi-Fi is absolutely one of their finest records to date. This record was also the final appearance of original drummer Bill Berry (who left the band after suffering a seizure during the Monster tour.)

Hi-Fi brings a wide range of musical styling and moods as the band presents a far less polished feel than they had in nearly a decade. Many of the lyrics are, understandably, about traveling or movement (both in the physical as well as metaphyiscal sense). Music legend Marianne Faithful lends her signature vocals to the dark and eerie "E-Bow The Letter" which certainly quailifies as one of the greatest songs R.E.M. has ever released.

New Adventures also contains songs remeneicient of some of R.E.M.'s most well known songs. "Departure" sounds like it could have been a studio outtake from the bands' legendary album, "Document" while the lyrical pattern and feel of "The Wake-Up Bomb" beings memories of the never mistaken, "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

With so many different recording places, it is amazing that the album still manages to have a very cohesive feeling. The songs flow seamlessly together and each song has a complete, yet open sound.

Since Bill Berry left the band, it is now clear that New Adventures In Hi-Fi truly marks the end of R.E.M.'s signature sound, and their releases since have been unable to measure up to the standards the band set over nearly two decades. Each and every music lover should know and love this wonderful record as it truly presents one of the finest acts in music history having fun, and making an amazing record in the process.

Standout tracks: "The Wake-Up Bomb," "E-Bow The Letter," and "Electrolite"


CasCbus said...

I've listened to the album this morning and really like the music on it...I think I need a couple more spins to really ingest the lyrics. Stipe's voice is excellent!

Anonymous said...

Marianne Faithfull? Surely Patti Smith?