Around the Sun
Reviewed by Josh, added on Jan 1 2005
R.E.M. is back for the first time since 2001(aside from, "In Time, The Best of R.E.M.") with Reveal. Reveal was more of a relaxed R.E.M., and Around the Sun, is more melodic, but still not the multiplatinum type album. Don't get me wrong, Around the Sun is a good album, but it could be better. The band seems like they are not full-time anymore. It seems like they haven't recouperated from the departure of drummer Bill Berry in 1997.
The album starts out with "Leaving New York," a little bit of the older sound. The song is about a figure who is leaving New York , and is spilling his feelings of why he's leaving. The second song, "Electron Blue," is a techno styled song with a sparkling sheen. Not one of the best, but the album does have many weak spots. Then comes my favorite, "The Outsiders". The song features simple(but pretty cool) drum beats, powerful lyrics, and rapper Q-Tip. The song is a 4 minutes story between a couple overcoming a serious problem, and what they both will do in the situation. Rapper, Q-Tip, offers a 1 minute solo, and just adds to the emotion of the song, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saying, "I am not affraid," many times. Blah, blah, blah.... The fourth track, "Make It All OK," is an emotional, somewhat humoring song. Another one of those after you break up songs. There was a line I liked, "Jesus Loves Me Fine," a strong comeback to the rejection of being "...useless." "Final Straw" the 5th song on "Around the Sun" sounds more like a spin-off of Led Zeppelin's "House of the Rising Sun". Then comes, "I Wanted to Be Wrong,'' an acoustic ballad similar to R.E.M.'s old stuff. The 7th song, "Wander Lust," a little catchy tune from the trio. For some reason when I listened to it, I thought about "Shiny Happy People", then I listened to that song, and they didn't have much similarities.... I don't know why that popped in my head. "Wander Lust" is a little catchy, but I didn't like the lyrics, especially the chorus. "The Boy in the Well" is a decent song, but not one of the best on this album. "Aftermath" is an ok song, that sounds a little more like the older stuff. Which is waht I wanted. "High Speed Train" is definately not a great song on the album, it's probably my least favorite. The last three songs on the album are ok. "The Worst Joke Ever," is a good listening song. Another piano tune. The 12th song on Around the Sun, "The Ascent of a Man" sounds more like a Christian-Rock song that Jars of Clay would sing. Finally, the title track "Around the Sun", is an adventurous song about a man who is willing to do anything. Asking questions about what he is dong, Stipe opens up on his harmony, leaving fans wondering at the conclusion of the album.
If you are a hardcore R.E.M. and expecting a wonderful comeback album, this is not it. I'm not a big fan, but I do listen to the trio somtimes, and this album just didn't satisfy me. I'm not saying that any R.E.M. fan or any paying customer should turn this album down, but it's just not what I expected after 3 years of nothing. I wondered if the band just called it quits there for awhile.