Magazine article Newsweek

Finding Their Religion: R.E.M.'S New CD, 'Reveal,' Should Rally the Faithful

Magazine article Newsweek

Finding Their Religion: R.E.M.'S New CD, 'Reveal,' Should Rally the Faithful

Article excerpt

The band R.E.M. has been around for 20 years now, so caring about it increasingly means fretting over when it'll start to stink. Drummer Bill Berry left the group in 1997. He had his reasons--an aneurysm onstage a few years earlier and subsequent ruminations on mortality, among other things--but his departure was worrying nonetheless. Surely a rock band has run out of steam when even the drummer has better things to do. The group's debut as a trio, "Up," was the first disappointing R.E.M. album ever. And their new CD, "Reveal," was the first R.E.M. album I ever popped into the player with something like fear.

"Reveal" has its lame tracks, but on the whole it's so full of loveliness, subtlety and invention that it's going to be a long while before anyone worries about R.E.M. again. Michael Stipe is famous for the elliptical, refrigerator-magnet-poetry of his lyrics. (If it weren't for him, Kurt Cobain could never have gotten away with singing, "A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido, yay," and so on.) On "Reveal," Stipe, who's possessed of one of the most gorgeously melancholy voices on the planet, sings about... well, I'm not entirely sure. Dreams. The unconscious. Longing. Rootlessness. Longing. Dragonflies and sea horses. Longing, longing, longing. As always, some of Stipe's lyrics are criminally obtuse ("Charades, pop skill/Water hyacinth/ Named by a poet/Imitation of life"), but then verbs were never his strong suit.

Musically, "Reveal" is a wonderfully textured, atmospheric CD full of guitars, pianos, strings, synthesizers and various ambient murmurings. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.