Bang And Blame (Warners)


Drive It (Quigley)

You know you're getting old when you have to start trying. The sleeve of R.E.M.’s new  single features a cup of black coffee, slightly out of focus, as if they've kind of realised that there's nothing occurring naturally in their sound anymore to suggest that still-wonderful adolescent male vision of brooding, photogenic cool (these days, I just hear vests and hair), so it’s going to have to be 18-foot roadsigns from here on in. I always loathed their lack of imagination anyway, that awful, misplaced pride they had in clinging to the four-square rock band line-up, that inability to put aside hoary notions of rock classicism and come up with fresh heroes –but, for as long as things like "Drive" kept happening, I let it pass. These days, though, y’know, I just haven't got the time to hang around waiting for millionaires.

The misty, small-town downs R.E.M. left behind have relocated to the music of Idaho. Except, this time, the guitars a slow, tearful drag, the voice fallen leaves settling. Like a roll-neck sweater still smelling faintly of an ex-girlfriend's perfume, Idaho enfold and enervate equally; all uncertainty and bare branches. For when you're a blizzard of tears. For when you' re empty as the bottle you're still holding upside down above the hungry glass, seven seconds after you realise there's nothing left. For when you gaze deep into the large eyes of your horse and say, "Help me, Buttonn.”

New Music Express

November 1994