After two consecutive albums dominated by mid-tempo fare, R.E.M. gets back to its stripped-down, fast-paced rock roots on "Accelerate," due this week via Warner Bros.

After two consecutive albums dominated by mid-tempo fare, R.E.M. gets back to its stripped-down, fast-paced rock roots on "Accelerate," due this week via Warner Bros. The 11-track set, which gets in and out in a lightning-quick 34 minutes and change, is led by the single "Supernatural Superserious."

Opener "Living Well's the Best Revenge" sets the tone, with a prominent lead guitar figure from Peter Buck, thumping, melodic bass lines and backing vocals from Mike Mills and a rapid stream of lyrics from frontman Michael Stipe. The track almost seems like a musical cousin to "Just a Touch" from 1986's "Life's Rich Pageant."

Elsewhere, "Hollow Man" begins as a piano ballad but quickly morphs into a revved-up chorus, while "Horse To Water" is a noisy, angular rocker with the unmistakable stamp of R.E.M.'s pre-major label days.

"We wanted to do a record really fast so there was no way for us to overthink it," frontman Michael Stipe says. "In terms of the material, we kind of went to the most obvious place. We wrote really fast songs and we tried to keep them really raw and in-your-face and that's what we wound up with."

He continues, "It was kind of like there was an agreement between the three of us that we were all going to try to work really hard to try to upset the things that we had gotten bogged down in in the past." R.E.M. launches a summer tour May 23 in Vancouver with support from Modest Mouse and the National.