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With 'Accelerate,' R.E.M. Hits Top Speed Again

R.E.M. has been playing around the world to promote their 14th album, <em>Accelerate</em>.
Joerg Koch/AFP
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R.E.M. has been playing around the world to promote their 14th album, Accelerate.

The band R.E.M. recently released Accelerate, its first album in four years. Critics have been describing the disc as a "comeback," saying it's the band's best album in ages and that the group is playing with "the urgency and insurgency they did in their early years."

Among the album's tracks: "Houston," which details the narrator's crisis of faith after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the government's unfocused response, and "Living Well Is the Best Revenge," which R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe has described as a reaction to modern media culture.

R.E.M. came together in Athens, Ga., in 1980, releasing its first single, "Radio Free Europe," the following year. It was initially an underground sensation, but within a decade its albums were entering the pop charts at No. 1; 1991's Out of Time, anchored by the smash-hit single "Losing My Religion," sold more than 4 million copies. Accelerate is the band's 14th album.

Stipe and bandmates Peter Buck and Mike Mills join Terry Gross to talk about the new album and the band's 28-year history.

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