Volume 95, Issue 1
Thursday, May 24, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT||
Disc of the week
U2 rediscovered the power of rock. Blur sailed into sonic heaven, casting aside their greatest hits with a "singles" tour and retrospective album. The ever-disgruntled Manic Street Preachers got mad about being too pop, then got happy by making angry rock, or something like that.
If Reveal is any indication, REM's current path is paved with more of the past. Much like U2, another band born in the 80s and still residing in the Top 40, REM hasn't forgotten why we first loved them.
Reveal is yet another collection of gorgeous pop songs and "tug at your heart" string ballads – much in the vein of the classic Automatic For The People. But this is not necessarily "classic" REM.
Whereas "Everybody Hurts," "Losing My Religion," or even "The Great Beyond" were some of the most beautiful pop songs four white guys from America had ever produced (all apologies to the Beach Boys, of course), Reveal is merely good.
Album opener, "The Lifting," is a rousing and uplifting launch for Reveal. "Saturn Return" demonstrates REM's desire, if not need, to embrace modern musical technology with its mix of delicate piano and fuzzy bleeps and samples, orbiting around Stipe's almost effortless vocals. The first single, "Imitations of Life," is a good enough bit of fun, but oddly out of place.
The rest of the album is textbook REM. Wonderful for a hazy summer evening, the perfect addition to any REM fan's collection, but strangely disappointing all the same. Never change, never improve and you will die cold, naked and alone – or, at the very least, you will bore the hallowed rock critics.
Maybe expectations are now too high or the majesty of an "Everybody Hurts" makes anything less seem lacklustre. Surely REM could do better, but surely they could do worse.
– Aaron Wherry
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