Since original drummer Bill Berry left the band in 1997, R.E.M. have been a very a different group. Their albums turned inward, contemplative, experimental, and moody, rarely setting aside the time to rock. With 2008’s Accelerate, their first studio album in four years since Around the Sun, they are recharged and ready for the road. Reinforced with ex-Ministry drummer Bill Rieflin and extra guitarist Scott McCaughey, the remaining trio breathe new life into their musical and political passions. “Living Well’s the Best Revenge” begins on an urgent note, the guitars snarling while Michael Stipe defiantly reclaims his spokesman mantle declaring “The future is ours and you don’t even rate a footnote.” Other supersized rockers, “Mansized Wreath,” “Horse to Water,” and “I’m Gonna DJ,” further celebrate the band’s newfound aggression. Even the downcast numbers, the post-Katrina exile of “Houston,” the ominous foreboding of “Sing for the Submarine,” are fueled with underlying fuzztones amidst the acoustic guitars and sublime backing harmonies from bassist Mike Mills, who resumes his role as the album’s gentle organizer. A welcome return.