Around the Sun
By Zane Ewton
R.E.M. is in the unenviable position of
being a band with past successes and respect that could have been too much
for other bands to make it throughout. Right now they find themselves
somewhere between the complete obscurity of their 80s indie followers
and the worldwide mass-marketing machine of U2.
The band response to this dilemma is to
release a mellow and pretty album. Around the Sun is at times
organic, sometimes mechanical. The songs are built on pretty melodies
and focus on Michael Stipes vocals and lyrics.
During a political season when even non-political
bands are getting involved it would be expected that an election year R.E.M.
album would be chock full of politics. Surprisingly, Around the
Sun leans more towards personal feelings and doesnt clearly allude
to any political issues.
That is a very welcome thing, specifically
in a time when everyone and their mother are writing political songs.
Fans of Stipe will be very pleased with
Around the Sun, but Peter Buck and Mike Mills appear to be missing,
except for the occasional guitar melody or background vocal.
The addition of Q-Tip on The Outsiders
was not effective, he tends to blend into the song instead of contributing
anything worthwhile and the lack of anything upbeat will make you beg for
a remake of Shiny Happy People.
Around the Sun is the kind of album
for rainy days and coffee shop lounging. While songs like Leaving
New York, I Wanted to Be Wrong and The Ascent of Man are very good
R.E.M. songs, they start to blend together with the weaker tracks that
are all built on the same premise of an electronic base and strumming guitar.
There is just too much gloom and not enough
sun on this album.
Around the Sun
Leaving New York
Outsiders, The - (featuring Q-Tip)
Make It All Okay
I Wanted To Be Wrong
Boy In The Well
High Speed Train
Worst Joke Ever, The
Ascent Of Man, The
Around The Sun
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