January 12, 2010

COME FOR THE SINGER, STAY FR THE GTRIST

J. Edward Keyes doing some fine writing on the era of REM most people don't care about:" At a time when commercial rock was all crotch and machismo even post-punk messiah Bono was stridently, undeniably Male R.E.M. had a frontman who was proudly effeminate, a frontman who would give himself indefensible haircuts, lard his eyes with mascara and twitch around on stage like an electrocuted marionette. They proved that a band could be commercially successful despite their best efforts to be anything but: their biggest mainstream hits contain no elements connecting them to the songs that surrounded them on the airwaves they're oddities held together by snaking guitars or twinkling mandolin. Years before Nirvana, they provided a beacon for isolated, left-out teenagers and offered hope that, in a landscape laid to waste by Motley Crues and Def Leppards, the misfits and the art students and the queers and the bookworms and the drama nerds still had a shot. And while they are guilty of the same sins as many of their alt-rock peers namely, relentless political hectoring and an exhausting tendency toward self-righteousness they counterbalance those peripheral issues by providing some of the finest pop music of the last 30 years and, for a brief moment in the late 80s and the early 90s, making it cool to read, and to care that the world was going to hell in a Republican handbasket. Like the Smiths, they are a band you start out loving because of the singer and continue loving because of the guitarist. For poor, sad, unsaveable lifelong fans like this writer, they are a source of joy, inspiration, frustration, bewilderment, belief, annoyance, jubliation and defensiveness. (Oh, the defensiveness). They are not the type of dogs that will keep you waiting. They are R.E.M., and this is what they do."

Posted by jessica hopper at January 12, 2010 11:26 AM | TrackBack