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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars REM - Around The Sun
I find the reviews of this album very revealing about the sort of people that listen to REM. Most people seem to have very two-dimensional, linear expectations of this band. And so they miss the point completely.
People seem compelled to make comparisons "It`s not as good as Automatic for the People!" or even "It`s their best since Automatic for the People!". If I...
Published on 17 Oct. 2004 by Just Another Number

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a shame.....
....but it's hard to say that this album has not left my CD player since i bought it, because it has. I've been an REM fan since i was 10 years old, and own everything they've ever released that i can feasibly get hold of. But for me, this album has missed the mark. It's still a good album, but 'good' is the best superlative i can use. Over the years, Michael Stipes voice...
Published on 15 Nov. 2004 by Jetson


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars REM - Around The Sun, 17 Oct. 2004
By 
This review is from: Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase) (Audio CD)
I find the reviews of this album very revealing about the sort of people that listen to REM. Most people seem to have very two-dimensional, linear expectations of this band. And so they miss the point completely.
People seem compelled to make comparisons "It`s not as good as Automatic for the People!" or even "It`s their best since Automatic for the People!". If I want to hear Automatic for the People, I go put it on. People complain that REM have lost the punky, college-radio, folksy, alt.rock edge of the IRS years. If I want to hear that - I go put on Lifes Rich Pageant or Document.
REM down the years have provided us with an embarrassment of riches, and the widest variety of sounds of any major band I can think of. The point that a lot of people seem to miss is that REM have been on a journey since day one, since Chronic Town, since that gig in that church in Athens. Each new album is a further step along their way - but each album follows on logically from the one before.
They have never tried to forcibly change themselves (Apart from maybe with Monster), yet they have never allowed themselves to stand still. If you listen to the albums consecutively - each album actually sounds a lot like the one before (Again, apart from Monster. Monster was a deliberate attempt to sound different to Automatic.. That album was a reaction to what had gone before rather than an evolution.), and yet despite each other album being sonically similar to the one before - they have somehow got from the startled lo-fi of Murmur to to the celestial glimmer of Around the Sun. It`s been a true journey of evolution.
Each album has been a unique and distinct snapshot of where the band were at the time. Around The Sun is a great album, and an essential addition to the REM canon. Michael Stipe`s voice - one of the most haunting and beautiful sounds we`re lucky enough to have in popular music today - has never sounded richer or more assured, the musicianship is consummate - as we would expect. The song-writing is some of the most personal and emotional they have ever released.
REM have done precisely as they always have - they`ve provided us with the REM album we need today. Not the albums we needed ten or fifteen years ago - they already made them.
The most striking thing I recall about every REM album I`ve ever heard is that they are definitively "growers". The tunes, lyrics and moods of the songs cunningly sneak into your subconscious and then, after a while - and quite out of the blue - you realize you`re utterly smitten.
I really like this album today, in a year I`m gonna love it.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars R.E.M. - Patience Is A Virtue., 27 July 2005
R.E.M. have never been conventional by any means. You know that whenever they release an album, it's going to delight, frustrate, confuse, and embrace in equal measures. I consider this to be the magic of R.E.M., as they never quite release what you're expecting of them.
The 13th studio album, Around The Sun is such an album. Upon first buying it back in October 2004, I found it difficult to listen to the first time I played it. Then the second time. Then the third time, and so on. I consider this to be a good thing, as the listener is ultimately rewarded with repeated listens and the songs become more cohesive when given the patience and time they deserve.
I think it's only fair that R.E.M. are accurately represented here, because if you believe some circles, Around The Sun is a disappointing album. These 'untruths' are usually associated with record sales in America. If Around The Sun would've shifted 3 million copies in the United States, they'd be the media darlings of the press and certain British music magazines would be fawning over them again, like they did when it was 'cool' to like R.E.M. As it is, Around The Sun sold approximately 75 copies in the U.S. and because of the lukewarm reception, some of the U.K. music press gave the album a kicking, offering up meagre ratings, or average reviews at best.
Where are all the R.E.M. sycophants now? Having leeched the band for every available inch of column space during 1991-1992, they've long since switched their fawnings to the 'next big things'. Good riddance to them. It'll be interesting to read this review again in 10 years, when Coldplay's star has long since faded and the music press are giving Chris Martin a kicking for being an over the hill angst ridden thirty-something who hasn't released a decent album since 2002.
It's fair to say R.E.M. can't win. After two 'difficult' albums in media terms, Michael Stipe writes an honest set of lyrics that becomes Around The Sun, with the classic R.E.M. sound evident in every song. Ironic then the press dismiss the album as sounding 'jaded', when several of the tracks wouldn't have looked out of place on Automatic For The People.
Forget the music press! Since when were a bunch of freeloaders who receive free cds from record companies ever credible?!
I would recommend Around The Sun as a fine album, based solely on the 13 songs presented, not by how credible they may be in 2005.
For anyone who has seen R.E.M. in concert during the current world tour, several of the tracks from Around The Sun come to the fore and sound great live, particularly The Outsiders, I Wanted To Be Wrong and Leaving New York.
As of July 2005, this album is only seven quid on Amazon.co.uk! Chump change for such a great album. Patient listening rewards even the most casual R.E.M. fan with an enjoyable experience.
I give this album four stars - that's four stars for competence, not for 'attitude', which is seemingly how the music press grade things.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This album grew on me - I think it is one of the best, 17 May 2011
By 
Andy E (Colchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase) (Audio CD)
I was given this album as a present last year (2010) and I have been kicking myself ever since. How could I have missed it when it was released in 2004? Thats six years of missed enjoyment!

This is not a rock album and most of the songs seemed to reflect personal angst of failed relationships. However, the musical arrangements and lyrics perfectly complement each other. The string arrangements on the Outsiders is quite simply amazing. The more I listen to this album the more I like it. I would even rate it at least as good as Automatic for the People and possibly better. To get the best out of the album it needs to be listened to in a quiet environment or with headphones.

Around the Sun is the type of album that becomes something like an old friend. You put it on when you want to hear something you know and trust and just want to chill out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a shame....., 15 Nov. 2004
....but it's hard to say that this album has not left my CD player since i bought it, because it has. I've been an REM fan since i was 10 years old, and own everything they've ever released that i can feasibly get hold of. But for me, this album has missed the mark. It's still a good album, but 'good' is the best superlative i can use. Over the years, Michael Stipes voice has mellowed somewhat, and subtle changes have crept in. He's still as distinctive a singer as you'll find today, but the voice has changed in a way i cant even describe. Unfortunately, it's not the same. All bands change, but it's a shame that (hopefully just for a short time) gone are the REM who threw "Whats The Frequency Kenneth?" at us, or who exalted the joys of skinny-dipping in Nightswimming, or who (going back a lot further) talked about 'Laocuon and her two sons' in "Laughing". The band still have the great songs to back them up when playing live, but in recent years, and with the departure of Bill Berry, things have slowed down. NAI Hi-Fi was a criminally underrated album, Up was a bit of a downer, Reveal was fantastic but had weak fillers such as Beachball, and now Around The Sun. Don't get me wrong, i'll still be going to see them live in Bebruary, and i'll still be buying their stuff. REM are still one of the biggest bands on earth, but after hearing this album, i wonder if they are still one of the most important.
I shouldn't go without mentioning the music, which is what we buy albums for. Wanderlust is a genuine treat, as is the single Leaving New York, with it's quirky piano line. The Outsiders however, is something of an anomaly. For the most part, it's glorious stuff, but then the whole song changes with that most ill-fated of things, the 'rap-in-a-rock-song'. Suddenly, it's like someone has turned your REM CD off and thrown a "Puff-Daddy-&-Faith-Evans" track on. Some will love it, but i'm sorry but not me. Make It All OK goes a long way towards recapturing the REM of old, and does have a certain "Automatic For The People" era feel to it. Final Straw will be regarded by some as REM-goes-country, and it does have that feel at times, but its an interesting number. The problem is, with much of the album, that the songs are just that, interesting but not for as long as you'd like.
To sum up (i havent got time to review the rest of the album), i would say tht this album, like so many, has its highs and lows, but has slightly too many "ordinaries". It'll be perfect background music to revise to, or to play in the car late at night, but at times you just wish that they would put the synth strings away and come up with something a little more upbeat.
P.S. If you do buy the album, and i think its worth buying (it got 3 stars off me), then go for the Limited Edition. The poster pictures inside are fantastic, a really worthy addition, and a touch of class too.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Play it more than once!, 9 Oct. 2004
By 
Coucho (London, UK) - See all my reviews
The first time I heard this record was via a link from the REM website and after doing a quick flick through the tracks, I thought it was the worst thing they had ever recorded. However, as with a number of their more recent recordings this is one that grows. It continues where Reveal left off in many ways - none of the tracks are really up-tempo, but on each hearing they reveal layers and subtleties that weren't there before. Leaving New York, for once, is a good choice for a single. Boy in the Well and I wanted to be Wrong are other stand out tracks and Electron Blue has a flavour of 'The Lifting' about it. Wanderlust is probably the weakest track - more upbeat but gives the impression it was written in twenty minutes. The Outsiders would have been excellent but for the Q-Tip rap - it just seems like an add-on at the end of the song. Overall, there is a slight move towards a more acoustic and country sound to the album. Its an album to listen to on a Sunday while you're cooking dinner rather than on a motorway drive - but its well worth getting! I would probably give it 7/10 so I guess that's 4 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wheres the energy?, 8 April 2005
Firstly, I would just like to say that I am a long time R.E.M fan and I enjoy almost everything they have ever done, however this album really does not do it for me and I have already started to grow tired of it.
I know that R.E.M do not confine themselves to a set format of music and the style of this album seems to be another new angle from the band. In some ways I think the reinvention is what keeps them interesting, but I found the dreary melancholy pace of this collection of songs a drag to listen to. Ive tried to love it but the album seems to plod through each track with very little spark and the sound becomes quite monotone after a while.
There is a lot piano/keyboard work on here and I think that is partly what puts me off. I have always enjoyed the inclusion of guitar work on R.E.M's albums but it seems they have opted away from this with more emphasis on an electric sound. So far I have listened to ATS right through several times and nothing has really jumped out at me as being special, that is apart from maybe the title track Leaving New York, but unfortunately everything seems to go downhill from there on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure listening pleasure..., 5 Oct. 2004
BUY ME NOW!
I've been waiting for this album for so long that I had become worried that the boys couldn't live up to my expectations; how wrong was I!?!!
The distinctive REM style is obviously there; the lyrics are brilliant, music is even better! There are also interesting experiments to embrace other styles of music (take 'The Outsiders' - Track 3 - as an example).
Stipe's vocals seem to get better and better; depth and passion seem to come so effortlessly. I guess this is partially due to the fact that he's singing about concepts and ideas that are really relevant to him, personally, as evident from his usual honesty.
The Special Edition features are pretty cool too - huge box for just one CD, and a poster for each of the tracks, created by artists within inspiration from the music. Easily worth the extra!
You might want to pick up a few other REM albums whilst you buy this one! Can I recommend 'UP' (feat. Daysleeper, At My Most Beautiful, and Walk Unafraid) and also 'New Adventures in Hi-Fi'. Or, just buy them all! An investment that nobody with a soul could regret!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars REM in the comfort zone, 7 Oct. 2004
Over the years REM have been many things, but above all they have been consistently interesting. No album has opted so totally for uniformity as 'Around The Sun' and by playing safe they have produced a disc full of mostly enjoyable and hummable melodies with little variation or excitement.
It starts well, Leaving New york is a good solid tune that would fit well on most albums from Automatic onwards. Electron Blue has a pleasing rhythym and more electronic style, The Outsiders is possible the best track, Stipe sounding relaxed and with an excellent chorus line, even the rather half-hearted rap conclusion fits well enough. But from here on the tracks disappear into a blur of mediocrity. None are bad, and individually most are fairly decent songs, it is just that a day or so later you'll be unable to separate them. Resolutely mid-tempo to the conslusion nothing catches your ear. It all sounds polite, polished and unchallengingly nice.
2 stars may seem a bit harsh for an album that will not upset many mainstream REM fans, and will probably win a few more. It is just that REM have always seemed capable of surprising, dropping into an album a song which makes you sit up and listen wide-eyed. Around The Sun has no such moments and risks becoming background music after a few plays. I'd prefer if they took a few more risks with their obvious talents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Should have went around the muse instead of the sun, November 19, 2004, 11 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase) (Audio CD)
R.E.M.'s 13th studio album, AROUND THE SUN, will strike most listeners as a throwback to the band's sound in the early 1990s. While I've always thought OUT OF TIME was a pretty disposable record (save for a few songs), AUTOMATIC is what hooked me on R.E.M. While REVEAL, though short on melodies, sounds very much like a classicist R.E.M. album, AROUND THE SUN sounds like the band's trying to rewrite AUTOMATIC, and in every department AROUND THE SUN comes up deficient when compared to its predecessor, mostly because of its lack of emotional depth and the directionless funk R.E.M. finds themselves in the New Millennium.

While AUTOMATIC is slow and built mainly on ballads and folk songs (albeit seen through a rock context), it had an emotional core that binds the record into a cohesive whole. AUTOMATIC never shies away from the heady themes, but it is a comforting record. Much of the album is largely mid tempo with one major exception. The political dirge "Ignoreland," where Stipe kicks the music and lyrics into high gear, bashing Reagan and the Republican Party, sounds both out of place and is rather jarring. Other than that and the rather bizarre inclusion of the throwaway two minute instrumental "New Orleans," AUTOMATIC mediates mostly on death, pain, and a search for solace. It is a tremendous set of songs, and is rightly regarded as one of R.E.M.'s masterpieces. It's mellow, soul-searching music. AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE is the one fo the best realisations of the power of folk and medative music played in a rock and roll context.

AROUND THE SUN, no matter what way you slice it, sounds like a directionless mess. The music is largely bland, hookless, and midtempo; the lyrics, while sometimes (entirely characteristic) oblique, never touches the listener like AUTOMATIC does. When listening to AROUND THE SUN, you get the very distinct impression that R.E.M. was grasping in the wind, trying to come up with an emotional powerhouse like the aforementioned AUTOMATIC. What's missing is the sense of purpose, both for the band themselves and the actual record. Given how active Stipe is in politics, you'd think the band could turn out an aggressive, politically charged album; all he can muster here is "The Final Straw." It's funny how little things have changed. In the early 1990s there was a Bush in office, war in Iraq, and Stipe and Co. venting their political angst. Stipe's political nightmares came true when George Bush won. In another way, things have changed a lot. The democratic nominee lost, George Bush did what his father could not (a second term), there's still war in Iraq, and instead of releasing a masterpiece R.E.M. rambles through the most directionless set of music they have ever recorded.

It helps to understand what has gone on before AROUND THE SUN.Ever since 1997 (and I would argue before that), R.E.M. has been desperately trying to find a cutting edge sound to hang their hat on. MONSTER, AUTOMATIC's followup, is needlessly noisy and uneven, though there are some great songs on it. NEW ADVENTURES, their most consistent post IRS album next to AUTOMATIC, stands as their most underrated album. With UP, after Berry's acrimonious departure, finds R.E.M. overcompensating with meaningless experimentation. What saves UP is they manage to write a few good songs, even if the experimentation feels very forced. REVEAL sounds like the band's trying to go back to the core of their older sound, making a very atmospheric, shiny album.

AROUND THE SUN, however, sounds like they just don't know what to do anymore. They've returned to the highly stylised folk-rock of AUTOMATIC for SUN's foundation. But where that album always sounded compelling, challenging, and intriguing, SUN sounds like they're going through the motions. That doesn't mean the album's horrible, or there are no good songs on it. The band's been around for over twenty years; they can turn in a professional set of music when they want too. And that's the core problem with SUN. SUN never catches hold because it has such a processed, calculated feel to it, making it a stilted affair. Just like UP, SUN feels like it's spent too much time in the studio and not enough time in the band's heart and soul. AUTOMATIC is such an emotionally charged and naked album that you just connect to it; here, the band never lets you get close emotionally to the music. The music, as it drifts lazily by, is just slow, faceless adult pop. That's what makes it such a step down from AUTOMATIC

There are certainly good songs on AROUND THE SUN. I enjoy the album (see the rating). But that doesn't change the fact it's their most artistically adrift album R.E.M.'s ultimately turned into sleepy, adult pop band, the likes of which you hear in offices and dentists' waiting rooms. Given their overall body of work (especially the early years), it's just sad that R.E.M. feels so directionless, and how far they're truly removed from their earliest output. You may like this album; you may not. The old school fans (the IRS years) won't like it (do yourself a favour if you never heard any early R.E.M. and buy MURMUR or RECKONING; it's amazing how much they've changed). Fans of their 90s work will be more sympathetic.

Just don't let all those comparisons with AUTOMATIC fool you though. While AROUND THE SUN certainly sounds like they're were trying to come up with a comparable masterpiece, the record never once approaches the emotional heights and comforting undercurrents that make AUTOMATIC such a vital, vibrant work of art.

Better luck next time boys
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a bitter disappointment, 5 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase) (Audio CD)
I was concerned for this album the moment I heard "Leaving New York". It caused me to wonder if the single had been released at the record company's wishes rather than the band's, as it's just generic REM by numbers pop. Typically REM have offered a misleading single as a preview for their new records. On hearing "Around The Sun" for myself, I felt my heart sink. It would seem that the "3 legged dog" is finally finding it a little hard to keep going on 3 legs. On the release of "Reveal" I was at the point of believing REM were in fact the greatest band in the world, but I knew it all hung on how they followed that album up. Now I know a lot of folks claim the first Berry-less offering to be truly brave and great, but it never did much for me, and I have found "Around The Sun" to be wandering back into that territory. The songs are empty, strangely emotionless. Maybe, just maybe, this is EXACTLY how the band wanted this album... but it's going to take me a long while to grasp it.
Admittedly there are a few songs to grap the attention. "Electron Blue" is a fairly good reminder of Stipe's vocal abilities, and "The Outsiders" shows REM as the Band That Writes Songs Together. To it's credit, Pat McCarthy's production is awesome, it's a well recorded record...
But I come away from it cold and unexcited. A shame, considering the buzz I remember from the first time I listened to "New Adventures..." Sadly it looks like those times have passed. Now let us wait and see the vastly differing opinions roll in. I'm sure we will.
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Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase)
Around The Sun (Int'l Jewelcase) by R.E.M. (Audio CD - 2004)
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