So Fast, So Numb
April 7, 2007
I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me eleven years to notice two very obvious things about New Adventures In Hi-Fi — first, that it’s mainly comprised of songs that emphasize briskly strummed guitar chords as opposed to Peter Buck’s usual penchant for “jangly” arpeggiation, and second, that a majority of its songs either dress down or reach out to very damaged individuals. With that in mind, “So Fast, So Numb” can be seen as the quintessential Hi-Fi track in the way it hitches its confrontational tough love lyrics to a composition built around harsh acoustic strumming and crisp, propulsive percussion. Though the song conveys a strong sense of frustrated exasperation, Michael Stipe nevertheless manages to express a great deal of empathy in both his words and his performance. He seems bitter, betrayed, and more than a little disgusted by his ex-lover’s apparent drug problem, but unwilling to completely abandon him.