"Supernatural Superserious"

Not Rated

This brisk bundle of pop-chorus sunshine and fuzz-box fisticuffs from R.E.M.'s forthcoming rock-centric album, Accelerate, was originally called "Disguised" until R.E.M. pal and fan, Coldplay's Chris Martin, working on his record next to where R.E.M. were mixing in London, had a better idea. "He was like, 'That's a great song but a terrible title – you should change it to 'Supernatural Superserious,'" R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe explains. That phrase from the final line is a perfect, contradictory fit for a song of identity crisis full of strutting guitars and the fighting joy in Stipe's vocal and bassist Mike Mills' background cries. "Everybody here/Comes from somewhere/ That they would just as soon forget/And disguise," Stipe stags against Peter Buck's crusty strum, before the whole band bursts in with Document-era ardor. By the end, there are no masks, no fear, but "an open heart on a darkened stage/A celebration of your teenage station" – a classic blast of rock & roll transformation from a band at a new peak of its powers.

From The Archives Issue 1047: March 6, 2008