Accelerate is the 14th studio album by the American alternative rock band R.E.M., released on March 31, 2008 in Europe, and on April 1 in North America. Produced with Jacknife LeeAccelerate was intended as a departure from the 2004 album Around the Sun.[1] R.E.M. previewed several of the album's tracks during a five-night residency at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, and recorded the album in a nine-week schedule.


 [hide*1 Background and recording

Background and recording[edit]Edit

R.E.M.'s previous record Around the Sun (2004) only sold 240,000 copies in the U.S. and was poorly received by critics.[2] The band members later expressed displeasure with the album. Guitarist Peter Buck told Q, "I personally hated it. [Quickly] No, hated is too hard. I hated the fact that it wasn't as good as it should've been." Buck admitted the band felt pressure to subsequently make a better record; he told Q, "Even Michael [Stipe] was going, 'Y'know, if we make another bad record, it's over.' It's like, 'No kidding.'"[3]

Buck and bassist Mike Mills began working on instrumental demos in winter 2007, assisted by touring members Bill Rieflin and Scott McCaughey. The music they wrote was faster and more aggressive than other material they had written in years.[4] Mills suggested the band work out its new songs in a live setting before recording them, as it had done in its early years.[4] Between June 30 and July 5, 2007, R.E.M. played a five-night series of shows at the Dublin's Olympia Theatre. In this series of shows—dubbed "working rehearsals" by the band, many songs on Accelerate were debuted, with many of them still as works in progress.[5] These performances would later be released as Live at The Olympia in 2009.

At the urging of The Edge of U2, R.E.M. chose to record the album with producer Jacknife Lee.[6] Following the Olympia Theatre residency, R.E.M. scheduled three-week recording sessions in three different cities in order to keep its focus. The tight recording schedule prevented Stipe from spending too much time working on his lyrics and vocal parts. Stipe told Spin, "I work really well under pressure, and the guys know that all too well... So the pace forced me to kind of spit stuff out."[4] The group mixed the album in a London studio in ten days. Regarding the recording process, Stipe said, "We spent less time making this record than we have in 20 years".[7]


R.E.M. was reluctant to pin down the style of their new album so as not to create wayward expectations.[8] The new material featured in the Dublin concerts demonstrated a much more stripped-down, guitar-driven sound than was featured on the band's recent releases, and Mike Mills has indicated that these shows give a good indication of the band's direction. Stipe said his lyrics on Accelerate are inspired by the contemporary state of the nation, saying, "When the empire is going down the toilet, it's easy to write great, angry songs."[4]


On January 1, 2008, R.E.M. launched the website, on which a new short clip from Accelerate was posted daily until the album's release.[9] In February, R.E.M. launched the website with eleven videos to promote the album. A week later, R.E.M. launched, a web page for promoting and aggregating news about the album itself.

In late March 2008, the band released Accelerate as a digital web streams on iLike six days prior to the American release of its physical album in April. Michael Stipe said R.E.M. wanted to experiment with its distribution system, citing the change in the music industry since the release of Around the Sun.[10] A deluxe edition of the album was released in addition to the standard edition; it includes a DVD featuring filmmaker Vincent Moon's film 6 Days, which includes behind-the-scenes footage and performances of various songs on the album. Two B-side tracks, "Red Head Walking" and "Airliner," are included as bonus tracks, along with a 64-page booklet. The vinyl version consists of two 12 inch discs each running at 45 RPM, and contains the full album on CD.

A brief tour, the last of the group's tenure, took place in 2008. It covered Europe, North America, and Latin America.[11]

Release and reception[edit]Edit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 79/100[12]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [13]
The A.V. Club B+[14]
Robert Christgau [15]
Entertainment Weekly A−[16]
The Guardian [17]
The New York Times favorable[18]
NME 8/10[19]
Pitchfork Media 6.7/10[20]
Rolling Stone [21]
Spin [22]

Accelerate was the band's highest-charting release since 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 115,000 copies,[23] went on to sell over 353,000 copies in the U.S. and became the band's eighth album to top the British album charts.[24] "Supernatural Superserious" was released as the album's first single. The second single "Hollow Man", was released in June 2008, with "Man-Sized Wreath" following in August. According to BillboardAccelerate stayed 18 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart.[25]

Accelerate has been generally well received by critics, receiving a score of 79 out of 100 on Metacritic.[12] Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars, with critic David Fricke praising the group's aggressive sound, writing, "Stipe has not sounded this viscerally engaged in his singing and poetically lethal in his writing since the twilight of the Reagan administration."[21] NME reviewer Alan Woodhouse, similarly applauding the group's return to their previous sound, gave Accelerate an eight out of ten rating, and concluded, "Accelerate is by some considerable distance R.E.M.'s best and most cohesive album since [former drummer] Bill Berry left, and crucially echoes a time when they made their best music, if not necessarily their biggest-selling."[19] Q reviewer Keith Cameron wrote that unlike Around the Sun, "Accelerate is the sound of a band having enjoyed a good word with themselves — and us." Cameron described the album's first three songs as "powerful as the first half of 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant," but commented that the album suffers through a "midway dip that afflicts even the best R.E.M. album."[26]

Time reviewer Josh Tyrangiel praised guitarist Buck's "resurgence" and "propulsive riffs," but also wrote, "R.E.M.'s 14th album never quite generates the moody atmospherics of their first 10; it's a little hard to lose yourself in something that doesn't pause long enough for you to get lost."[27] Uncut gave the album three out of five stars. Reviewer John Mulvey stated, "Accelerate is a simple, pragmatic record built on an uncomfortable truth: sometimes, even the best bands have to retrace their steps, if only to remind themselves what they're really good at."[28]

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written by Peter BuckMike Mills and Michael Stipe, except as noted.

  1. "Living Well Is the Best Revenge"  – 3:11
  2. "Man-Sized Wreath"  – 2:32
  3. "Supernatural Superserious"  – 3:23
  4. "Hollow Man"  – 2:39
  5. "Houston"  – 2:05
  6. "Accelerate"  – 3:33
  7. "Until the Day Is Done"  – 4:08
  8. "Mr. Richards"  – 3:46
  9. "Sing for the Submarine"  – 4:50
  10. "Horse to Water"  – 2:18
  11. "I'm Gonna DJ"  – 2:07
Bonus tracks
  1. "Redhead Walking" (Calvin Johnson)  – 2:11
  2. "Airliner" (Buck, Mills, Stipe, and Scott McCaughey)  – 2:21
  3. "Horse to Water" (Live from Athens)  – 2:17
  4. "Living Well Is the Best Revenge" (Live from Athens)  – 3:12
  5. "Until the Day Is Done" (Live from Athens)  – 4:06
  6. "Supernatural Superserious" (Live from Athens)  – 3:25

These bonus tracks were available in digital form from online retailers. The first two are also B-sides to the "Supernatural Superserious" single and the last was only released in the iTunes Store with pre-order copies of the album.


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Austria (IFPI Austria)[29] Gold 10,000x
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[30] Gold 15,000[31]
Germany (BVMI)[32] Gold 100,000^
Ireland (IRMA)[33] Gold 7,500x
Norway (IFPI Norway)[34] Platinum 30,000
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[35] Platinum 30,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] Gold 100,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone


Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart (2008) Peak


Australian ARIA Albums Chart[37] 13
Austrian Albums Chart[38] 2
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[39] 1
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[40] 13
Canadian Albums Chart[41] 1
Danish Albums Chart[42] 1
Dutch Albums Chart[43] 2
Finnish Albums Chart[44] 10
French SNEP Albums Chart[45] 17
German Media Control Albums Chart[46] 2
Italian Albums Chart[47] 2
Japanese Oricon Albums Chart[48] 29
New Zealand Albums Chart[49] 5
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[50] 1
Portuguese Albums Chart[51] 27
Spanish Albums Chart[52] 52
Swedish Albums Chart[53] 7
Swiss Albums Chart[54] 1
UK Albums Chart[55] 1
U.S. Billboard 200[41][A] 2

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (2008) Position
Austrian Albums Chart[56] 54
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[57] 43
Dutch Albums Chart[58] 63
French Albums Chart[59] 190
German Albums Chart[60] 39
Italian Albums Chart[61] 29
Swiss Albums Chart[62] 34
UK Albums Chart[63] 113
U.S. Billboard 200[64] 127
  • A^ The album also entered the Billboard Ditital Albums at No. 2, and topped the Digital Albums and Alternative Albums charts.[65]
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