It sounds 'old school'

American rock icons R.E.M. are working on a batch of new material, which apparently harks back to their origins.

OK. FINE. R.E.M. aren't what they used to be - but when they virtually defined American rock music for a fifteen year period you can forgive the band a down spell. From 'Murmur' to 'Up' the band barely put a foot wrong, and with that track record you can never count the band out of the game.

Releasing 'Accelerate' in 2008 the band sounded more energised than they had been for a decade. Touring the world, R.E.M. played an outspokenly political set drawing on the full wealth of their back catalogue.

It seems that reaching through the vaults has helped the band, with R.E.M. apparently working on some revitalised new material. The Posies frontman Ken Stringfellow spilled the beans recently, after being given an exclusive glimpse of the album.

A close friend of the band, Stringfellow recently met up with R.E.M. bass player Mike Mills in his new home city of Paris. Having heard the new material, The Posies' singer couldn't wait to tell people about it.

"It's sounding really great, very old school," Stringfellow told NME. "The first track had vocals which were mixed super low which I couldn't understand and I was like, 'Yes, a return to form.' Mike was on about pushing the vocals up and I was like, 'No, don't do it.'"

For the new material R.E.M. have once again teamed up with producer Jacknife Lee, who also helmed 'Accelerate'.

"What's cool about classic R.E.M. is that you have an electric and acoustic guitar coming along like The Byrds," Stringfellow added. "There's a lot of that in there, there's some piano songs too, but I didn't hear a lot of crazy, freaky keyboards and vintage drum machines in there like the period when I was with them."

"It had a very live feel" the singer continued. "It's really quite beautiful, some of the recordings were a little bit dark and had just the kind of murk that you would hear on an old R.E.M. record. I thought that was a great thing to bring back."

R.E.M. are set to release their new album next year.

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