Here’s a nice story: when I was young, R.E.M. was one of the very few bands that my parents and I could agree on. Especially my mom; she was all about their popular period in the 90s. Then I got older, started spending all of my money on CDs, and realized that their early period was even better. Now a stupid boy of sixteen, I eagerly awaited the release of Reveal, and bought it one of the first days it was out at the local HMV, now a something else. I quickly realized it was boring, boring, boring and proceeded to fucking ignore R.E.M.’s new albums, not even bothering to give their next release a listen when I was a stupid boy of nineteen.
It’s not that these songs are BAD, they’re just dull in the way that pretentious critics would call them “lush” and “atmospheric.” From the very first note the album is awash in strings and fake drums (how 2001) and synths, and it’s very, very slow and most importantly bereft of hooks. Who cares if “Chorus and the Ring” has great lyrics if it’s a chore to listen to them? The ol’ singwritin’ cupboard sounds pretty bare here for the Mike Stripes.
Precisely two songs match up to their earlier output – big single “Imitation Of Life,” the only song here that I actually enjoy listening to, and the tolerably cloying “I’ll Take The Rain.” The latter shows the other problem – that their genuine songs have turned into poe-faced seriousness more in the vein of “Everybody Hurts,” and I just don’t need it in my life, and I don’t see why anybody would. I guess it goes with writing books of haikus and shit, but man, this is some old-artists-futzing-around kinda stuff. Pretty at times and produced like a million bucks, but barely a hint of the old brilliance, except for “Imitation Of Life”, because that sure yanks my crank and twists it just the right way.
Well, I’m off to delete this entire album except for that one song now!
5 / 10