16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)
R.E.M. are always at their best when making music that is brave and unexpected, and this is their second bravest album. Only the "we hate our new fans" album Monster was braver, but this one is far superior.
Deprived of drummer Bill Berry after New Adventures, R.E.M. were unable to mix in classic rock songs on this album. But rather than try anyway, without drums, as they have done on Reveal, R.E.M. instead opted for an album of pure melancholy and beauty. It starts with Airportman - Stipe murmuring "great opportunity awaits" over eerie keyboard sounds, and if you can stomach this you will love the rest.
More than any other R.E.M. album, this a journey for the listener and an experience. It's an album about maturing, about troubled times and about coming out the other side. It's sad, mournful, reflective and incredibly uplifting. It makes Automatic For The People seem dry and emotionless by comparison. It's a response to all their previous work, full of references to earlier songs. There are 14 tracks, yet there are no weak ones; the album never sags. Each is beautiful and conveys a mood perfectly.
If Monster was a rejection of their new fans at the zenith of their fame, this (coming at perhaps the low point of their stardom) is a real treat for all the fans who follow the band because they love what they really are: unique, emotional, unpredictable.