Warner Brothers, 2001

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Up marked a turning point for R.E.M., a conscious move toward electronics and modernization of their sound. In a way, this had begun on New Adventures in Hi-Fi, but with the loss of drummer Bill Berry, a reliance on drum machines seemed a logical next step. Not surprisingly, both albums did not sell, so my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Reveal marks a step back into familiar territory for the remaining trio.

The problem with Reveal is not in the sound, which recalls the Green/Out of Time era, but rather the maturity and lack of urgency behind the songs. For the first time in the band's history, R.E.M. sounds as if their heart is not really into their music, and it suffers as a result. At other times, it sounds like the band is trying too hard to recapture the old sound, almost as if to say "Fine, have it your way, whatever." 

Although some fans and even a couple of band members swear by "All The Way To Reno (You're Gonna Be A Star)," the truth is that the glossy production doesn't mask a truly mediocre tune, the kind we've heard from these guys in varying forms for many years. Most of the songs are like this, although a few bright spots shine through: "Imitation of Life" is a perfectly fine single, "She Just Wants to Be" is a simple but well-written piece, and "Summer Turns To High" is one of those that grows on you with each listen, just like the best songs off Lifes Rich Pageant did way back in 1987.

If you are still awake by the end of the disc, the closer "Beachball" is a slightly less explicit ode to the Beach Boys than the previous album's "At My Most Beautiful" and is quite moving, at least for this release. But the bulk of Reveal is given over to pristine production in place of mediocre songwriting, and that is a shame.


Rating: C-

User Rating: C


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