Up until now I was an REM virgin, having never previously owned anything of theirs before, although I loved many of their singles. After listening to Reveal, all that will change. The album kicks off with the spacey, electronic/rock of The Lifting, though the album, in my opinion, really starts to shine when I've Been High (Track 2) begins. A fragile, heartrending ballad, about coming down (not from drugs, but from life); it is a real standout. Next comes All The Way To Reno, a lightweight piece of fun, country-tinged rock. Following Reno, is She Just Wants To Be, a folkish ballad with a powerful, albeit short, repeated chorus. Disappear, a strangely uptempo, but melancholy song, follows maintaining Reveal's high standards. Next comes Saturn Return, the most experimental track on the album. Michael Stipe's beautiful voice is backed by sparse electronica and punctuated by piano and guitar chords.
With the exception of Reno and The Lifting, the album so far is quite bleak, but the mood changes on Beat A Drum, a summery, folkish tune. Imitation Of Life, Summer Turns To High and Chorus And The Ring follow, all more uptempo, and with the occasional Beach Boys influene thrown in. In my opinion, this is the weaker part of the album, but is still highly listenable.
The penultimate track is easily the highest moment of Reveal. The gorgeously sad ballad, I'll Take The Rain, rivals such REM classics as Losing My Religion, Everbody Hurts and The One I Love, with its anthemic chorus. Michael Stipe's voice sounds its fullest and richest on this track, complementing the soaring strings - pure REM class. While I'll Take The Rain would have made the perfect closer, the band opted for Beachball, a summery track, complete with horns. A happy end to a balanced and very good album. I'll be checking out the back catalogue very soon indeed.