Hear This: R.E.M.’s “Airportman” signaled the band’s post-Bill Berry shift

In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, inspired by the new Porches album Pool: Songs from albums that marked a sharp left turn in an artist’s career.

R.E.M., “Airportman” (1998)

In R.E.M. fandom circles, the debate about the band’s pre- and post-Bill Berry albums still rages rather heatedly. The pivot point in the argument tends to be 1998’s Up, the first R.E.M. album without Berry as drummer. I’m personally a big fan of the album—the mix of claustrophobic guitars, ethereal percussion, and electronic flourishes captures universal feelings of confusion, imbalance, and, ultimately, optimism that resonate with me—but I absolutely see how fans of, say, “Fall On Me” might dislike it.

It’s to R.E.M.’s credit that the band set Up‘s transitory template …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *