Peter Buck was the music spod in REM and the good thing about having been in REM is that you’re now set up comfortably enough to be able to indulge your obsessions without worrying about commerce. Like his previous solo releases, like all his collaborations in fact, the Opium Drivel EP, shows off what he really wants to do and sing. On Side A, it’s Buck plus band (Kurt Bloch, Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin). ‘Portrait Of A Sorry Man’ is an apology for everything (“I’m sorry I invented indie rock….whole thing started out so well, how was I to know?”), with a garage-rock feel that reminds you of the playing of the Oblivians and the lyrics of Wreckless Eric. Meanwhile the ho-hum ‘If This Is Love Can I Have My Money Back?’ is straightforward bar-room Southern rock with lots of guitar soloing. Side B is the more intimate sound of Buck and McCaughey. ‘Drown With Me’ is dreamy and doomy introspection while the singer-songwriter blues ‘Welcome To The Party’ could almost be, if delivered in a Home Counties drawl, Robyn Hitchcock.
Everything here is overshadowed by his other band but that’s what makes it interesting – it’s what he does for himself, how he indulges his whims. It’s not essential listening but it is the essence of Buck.