Further correspondence between your's truly and Mr. Matthew Marrone.
I know you are sitting there chomping at the bit waiting to have a go at me regarding ‘Mine Smell Like Honey’, the latest song to be added to the long list of singles that R.E.M. has released in their careers. I doubt that they are going to get a big write-up in Village Voice.
And let’s be honest, this does not Smell Like Teen Spirit.
As I have read the words and praises of many sites so far that have heard the album, I am still waiting for that moment to arise where I shout to the heavens and announce that R.E.M. has once again returned to dominate rock and roll. We are 1/3 through this album right now and so far I have been wholly underwhelmed. It’s an album that appears it will dominate a healthy amount of dust on my CD shelf or lack of plays on my iTunes.
Whether that is a symptom of the band, myself or a little bit of both, I feel as if I am being lied to. When you feel like you are being lied to there is quite a bit of soul-searching involved which you begin to question why you are doing what you are doing in the first place. I guess you can say that the site’s mission was always a flawed one at that. . . one based on live recordings with a healthy dose of perspective of a Gen X’er who was ruined by the great music R.E.M. released in the 80’s and 90’s. But making comments about this song is like kicking around the Handicapped.
My wife brought up a tune by the band Arcade Fire, ('Suburban War' if you are curious) which for all accounts is very R.E.M.-ish in it’s structure with the jangly guitar chords and one of my favorite songs from this album. The album, ‘The Suburbs’ is exactly what I would want out of a Pop Album, with lyrics and music both meaningful and catchy. ‘Mine Smell Like Honey’ reminds her of a song that should be on the show ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and to be honest I cannot agree with her more. There is nothing all that complicated about the song, very simple and straightforward. Win Butler's singing on it is not over the top, and the jangly guitar just bleeds something that Peter Buck dreams in his sleep. But if you place this song and 'Mine Smell Like Honey' in front of me, I pick 'Suburban War' every time. At the same time you can take any four songs you want off Arcade Fire's 'The Suburbs' and put them up against the 4 songs on this album and I take Arcade Fire every time. There is no comparison. Arcade Fire is at a completely different league than R.E.M. is right now. And the question is, is why am I wasting my time worrying about a band putting out second-rate music when there are lots of bands like Arcade Fire out there?
R.E.M. circa 2010 has no soul, which is why in the 80’s the million or so jangly bands could not just replicate their sound because for what it’s worth, there was that uniqueness about them. Even in the 90’s each of the albums was slightly off so they never sounded “Mainstream”.
For you at home players and Mr. Matty, try this: give me 3 singles from the 80s and 90s which are worse than this one? I cannot find one. We are not even talking same ballpark.
We are being sold the line that this is R.E.M.’s classic sound with the Millsy background vocals, hooks, and whatnot but I really am trying to find it. This is not classic but boring. I sat around for days trying to actually come up with words to describe “Nothing”. I guess that is the first question about whether a song moves you is that you should feel something regarding it. Anything!?!
What I find even more impressive is that someone decided America was the perfect place to release this disposable song to the masses. I am not sure how I feel about this, if it’s not a slight insult to American Rock Fans everywhere.
I have questioned whether I still wanted to write about “Nothing” as if this was some Seinfeld routine and I am tired of listening to apologists whine about their supposed brilliance and that they deserve a 17th chance or that it’s all Stipe’s fault for smoking (aka to you young kids out there starting a band, don’t smoke cause your 14th record is gonna suck cause you won’t be able to sing on it).
What do you think R.E.M. fan retirement is like? Do you just post old YouTube videos on Facebook and listen to your Facebook friends throw random quotes like “Amber Waves of Gain” in their status updates and pine for a more simple time in your life when your favorite rock and roll band’s drummer had a unibrow and your favorite band’s lead singer had hair? Do you pull out Murmur and blast it out of the car while you are on you way to get your prostate checked up on?
Of course there is rumor that Uberlin is the hit song on the record, and a second rumor that it will be released next week so I am writing this in hopes that Uberlin throws a life preserver to this below average album. However, I am not sure what happens if Uberlin turns out to be more hype than hope. Do I write the eulogy? Do I start writing letters to you about how the new songs are without listening to them? Do I start writing about other bands here, ignoring the Rapid Eye Movement’s?
So that is about the size of it. Outside of handcuffing me and putting this song on repeat is the only way that you would make me listen to this song. I will be a sport, however, and allow you to demonstrate your best Ricky Gervais impression and tear me to shreds.