| ||Weird. I just listened to this yesterday for the first time in quite a while on a long (10 hour) car ride home. "New Adventures" might have been the first REM album I owned, I'm not sure, but it remains one of my favorite, and one of their most overlooked, and the last really great one they ever did. I almost wish they'd have stopped there, still on top, with that great last line--"I'm outta here." Ah well. Such is life.|
| ||I'm not sure about this album. I used to be sure, when I bought this album at 18, but no more. It was my 4th REM album (Up was my first-Up for Christs Sake!) and Im sure that perhaps coloured my reaction to New Adventures- look! drums! audible bass! tempo. I used to listen to this in an endless summer haze of weedy repititions, scribbling whatever wonderful lines seemed most aposite ('canary got stuck in a uranium mine' justifies How the West was Won by itself) But as I explored the rest of the corpus, New Adventures grew tarnished and grubby in comparison with their early triumphs.
Yes, this is an album about disillusionment, confusion and ennui but too often this is betrayed in the songwriting, production and performances, which veer from generic REM balladry(Be Mine) to grunge-lite workthroughs (Binky the Doormat). There's nothing truly terrible here (its an REM album after all- even their worst cuts land on the right side of tasteful) yet compared with the spontaneous creative intelligence of their previous work, the band seem to be confused as to where to go after the Monster cul de sac- less-Grunge, more-Acoustic?, Document?- so what we get is an album that, while solid, is REM by numbers, 1/2 automatic/acoustic balladry, 1/2 monster. The live feel makes the rockers sound great but lets down the quieter numbers which could have benefitted from some more studio buff. Even this can't disguise the fact that Departure and Wake Up Bomb sound like Oasis, while Leave, catchy though it is, is overlong and pseudo experimental (a siren does not Soundgarden make) However the great piints are truly stunning. E-Bow is a career high, undulating over one of Stipes most intimate lyrics, while Electliote is a cute piece of vintage bitterweet piano balladry. The best of the rock numbers, So Fast So Numb, takes REM into 70's bar rock territory, managing to sound fresh, fun and knowingly complicit alongside the lumbering faux-Zeppelin angst of Low Desert.
I really loved this album, now I only respect it. Its good, solid, but no masterpiece. Its the sound of a band that doesn't no where to go and unsure if it wants to even try. As an exercise in artistic situation, it works superbly. But REM records used to be so much more than the message, they used to crackle and fizz with sly winks and secret gestures that were both challenging and god damn cool. They would go on to make The Experimental Record and The Summer Record, but i'm going to listen to Life Richs Pageant instead. I don't what that ones about.|