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R.E.M, Around the Sun

Frankly, R.E.M. have been unable to repeat their early 90’s successes since the unexpected departure of drummer Bill Berry. Their first post-Berry release was the keyboard heavy UP, which had its moments, but failed to capture the energy of their past releases. Some critics raved about 2001’s Reveal as the band’s return to jangle pop rock, but in the end the album didn’t have the power or emotion to warrant such a glorified response. R.E.M.’s latest, Around the Sun, must have been influenced by the rainy Vancouver weather, where it was recorded. The entire album is soaked in a mid-tempo sadness that bores the listener. Highlights of the record include “Electron Blue” which features an inspirational rap from A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, and the first single “Leaving New York” has some of Michael Stipe’s most direct and sincere lyrics. Otherwise, Around the Sun just melds together in a slow burning loop that doesn’t stand out or even try to sound special. (Warner Bros.) Rating: 2.5 Out Of 5 Stars

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