Up (U.S. Version)
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Rem - Up - Cd
After REM's somewhat ambitious 1996 album, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, failed to light up the charts, you might have figured the band would return to the rock-solid bombast of Monster or the consumer-friendly pop of Green. But REM have enough cash not to worry about commercial failure, and they've already been to the top of the mountain, so for now they'd rather explore its lush valleys and secret caves. Up is an atmospheric journey as impressionistic as Enya and as evocative as John Barry. Some critics have compared it with the band's delicate and emotionally revealing gem Automatic for the People, but Up is more ambitious and creative. Sure, most of the songs are pastoral, but they're undercut with drama and sonic experimentation. The melodies are generally spare, the beats sparse. Guitars flicker in and out, providing tension and dynamics, while quivering strings, layered keyboards, and washes of feedback colour the songs like textured lines of paint in an oil portrait. The only blatant pop song is the single "Daysleeper". The rest of the album ebbs and flows, each song a separate component of a complete artistic expression. The sound may be influenced by guitarist Peter Buck's cinematic jazz side project Tuatara or by Michael Stipe's celluloid excursions, but its source doesn't matter. What's important is that more than a decade after their sell-by date, REM continue to challenge and inspire. Things are definitely looking up. --Jon WiederhornSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Obscure electronica and a woozy, sleepy jaded feel pervades this album. And mostly, nothing on here will grab you straight away. Certainly the stunning "At My Most Beautiful" might take your attention and the charming but REM-by-numbers lead off single "Daysleeper" will shake you by the hand and offer you tea and biscuits. But "Airportman" might just ignore you. Completely ignore you. But don't worry you'll be on speaking terms at some point.
There is something quite stunning about this album once you've spent time with it.
"Walk Unafraid" is defiant and mesmeric. "Parakeet" is beautiful. "Diminished" is paranoid and claustrophobic but perversely has a charming little chorus in the middle. This gives way to a sweet little acoustic hidden track which leaves as quickly as it arrives.
"Why Not Smile?" is simple and winsome. The closer "Falls To Climb" is somber and stately - the kind of track that would normally have Mr Buck's jangly Rickenbacker but this time is covered in electronic bleeps and synths. And it works well.
Down-sides? You need persistence, sunbeam, and if you've got 16 million tracks on your I-pod you can wade through at choice you might not want to cultivate it.
But if you appreciate the whole concept of an album then you'll stick with this.
There is a little bit of sleepyness - "Suspicion" is comatosed. Not at all offensive, just very sleepy.
But all in all, accomplished, intelligent and convincing. Worth a re-visit.
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.
Much has been made of the severe troubles involved in the making of "Up". Hopefully the band can reflect on the quality of the songs produced through this turmoil.
Arguably, in an artistic sense, R.E.M. are at their very best when they are forced out of their comfort zone. "Fables of the Reconstruction", for many their finest album of all, was also born from a dark period for the band. The stormy sense of dislocation sensed at the time is perfectly captured in the songs and in the production.
Similarly on "Up", the songs reflect a sudden shift in circumstance and perspective, while the production and lo-fi instrumentation is defiant and fresh in the face of possible adversity.
Perhaps only "Daysleeper" and "At My Most Beautiful" are instantly recognisable as 'vintage' R.E.M. songs. Both are wonderful in their way. The folk-tinged yearning vocals and waltzing rhythm of "Daysleeper" make it a bittersweet delight, while the admittedly twee "At My Most Beautiful" is undeniably gorgeous.
This album as a whole is experimental. In its way. It's not comparable to the seismic transition Radiohead conjured with "Kid A" for example. You won't find anyone comparing "Up" to Aphex Twin.
Sure, R.E.M. have adopted buzzing synths and some drum patterns here, and to wonderful effect. What's really novel, though, is the vulnerability willingly augmented in the songs by these lo-fi sounds and by the suitably strong production of Pat McCarthy.Read more ›
Highly reccomend listening to tracks like 'Hope' and 'Why not Smile?' on a very highquality walkman or hi fi, as the depth and texture of the sound is so amazing its almost edible (I still hear new layers of sound when I listen to it now). The beauty eminates from the lyrics original, expressive nature and in the experimental sounds that work so brilliantly, its hard to imagine how anyone could not love this. Not forgetting that each track has a distinctly subtle-yet powerful tune, prime example being Diminished, or Parakeets. This is a truly great record, and don't believe people who think Automatic For the People is the only good album, you'll miss out on this and other masterpieces like 'Out of Time'
Most Recent Customer Reviews
one of the best from ReM..miles better than accelerator which was rubbishPublished 13 months ago by S. Halsall
At the time it seemed like a great yet sad record, following the reduction to a trio. About 16 years later one can appreciate it as REM's best record ever. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Peace Man
This is one of REMs best albums, and its packed with good music, you must try this one, you will love itPublished on 13 Mar. 2014 by yngvegronseth
Others have written very eloquently here on the merits of this wonderfully-articulate, brave but underrated album, so I'll only add what's wrong with it: it's too long. Read morePublished on 28 Aug. 2013 by Nicholas B. Gibbs