R.E.M.: New Adventures in Hi-Fi (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) [Craft] | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, November 30th, 2023  


New Adventures in Hi-Fi (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)


Oct 28, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

R.E.M.’s tenth overall album and their fourth in a succession of ’90s masterworks beginning with Out of Time, 1996’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi incorporated the best of the group’s previous releases into a single moody exploration of the modern West in its imperial twilight. Whatever approaches may not have succeeded on the previous year’s Monster or the preceding Automatic for the People are perfected here, blending the band’s penchant for raw Americana, stadium-ready glam rock, and avant-garde artiness into a single concoction that overshadows many of their previous efforts. Reissued for its 25th anniversary by Craft Recordings, R.E.M.’s subtle ’90s masterwork has made a triumphant return, with something to offer listeners both old and new.

Bleak opening track “How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us” and moral ballad “New Test Leper” reflect frontman Michael Stipe’s general mood in a shifting climate preceding a quickly encroaching Y2K. In contrast, heavier tracks such as “Departure” and “Low Desert” add a certain sense of frenzy, recalling the hard rocking grit of their previous effort. Per usual, R.E.M.’s significant sense of eclecticism is on full display, from downtrodden ballads such as “Bittersweet Me” and the delicate “Be Mine” to edgier numbers “The Wake-Up Bomb” and “Leave.” In this sense, New Adventures in Hi-Fi may be R.E.M.’s most realized release, its diverse range and sonic fullness feeling like the ultimate product of their alt rock genius.

The album’s greatest offerings arrive in the form of Patti Smith collaboration “E-Bow The Letter”—an ode to the late River Phoenix, whose untimely death at 23 had rocked the entertainment industry less than three years prior—and poignant closing track “Electrolite,” on which Stipe commands, “20th century, go to sleep.” More than anything, this line alone sums the entire album and its intentions up in one fell swoop, announcing the end of an era, after which nothing could ever possibly be the same. However, in the track’s final seconds, Stipe assures the listener, “I’m not scared/I’m outta here.”

The Deluxe Edition features a myriad of rarities, including alternate versions of “Leave” and “Be Mine,” a remix of Monster favorite “King of Comedy,” and live performances of New Adventures tracks “Departure,” “Undertow,” “Binky the Doormat,” “New Test Leper,” and “The Wake-Up Bomb,” as well as a cover of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman.” The Deluxe Edition also includes a Blu-ray featuring previously unreleased visual material, such as a 64-minute outdoor projection film and HD-restored music videos.

The group’s final release with drummer and founding member Bill Berry, New Adventures in Hi-Fi is his fond farewell, and everything R.E.M. as a whole could ever have hoped to accomplish, standing as strongly as it did 25 years ago. (www.remhq.com)

Author rating: 9/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 0/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.