Ted Leo interviewing Michael Stipe. It’s interesting to hear him talk of early R.E.M. and the “voice” and how it has evolved. The way he describes it, the mumbling and low mixed vocals have given way to a clarity and power that is all for the better. And I, of course, feel the exact opposite. I understand where he’s coming from, or how he feels that it has improved with time, but it is the biggest problem I have with R.E.M. post-Bill Berry–besides the post-Bill Berry part.
The new album has its moments, certainly better than a lot of the garbage that the band has released over the past 10 years…but I feel like an understated, jangly, even pretty record, would be more what I would hope from this band in their older age. A mix of Fables and Automatic for the People (without “Everybody Hurts”).* But alas, it is not to be and shall never be again.
* The song “Uberlin” from the new album sounds like it could have been an Automatic track, almost ripping off “Drive,” but then it shifts into the most awkward and unnecessary bridge–why? It feels like they ran in through a music biz exec’s brain and he spit out this awful advice–and they took it.