(Warner Brothers)

R.E.M.: Reveal (Warner Brothers) The boys of R.E.M. finally live up to their name with the sleep-inducing Reveal. An album that doesn't stray too far from the group we all know and love, it also doesn't offer up anything in terms of exciting music. I suppose the first clue that they were up to no good should have been when I heard the first single, "Imitation of Life." A foreshadowing of the album yet to come, "Imitation of Life" is a weak effort compared to R.E.M.'s body of work as a whole.

The first track, the ironically titled, "The Lifting" manages to do anything but. "The Lifting" is the type of song that drags to the point where the artist could literally stop singing and no one would know, or possibly even care. They follow it up with "I've Been High," an alternative rock like tune that seems best suited for days before alternative rock was even born. This is the most experimental track hands down, but there are way too many valleys and not nearly enough hills.

"Saturn Return" is yet another nowhere tune with an annoying beat that makes you feel like you forgot to turn down the volume on grating background noise. When listening to "Summer Turns to High," I found myself picturing the Beach Boys on Valium. Consider yourself warned.

R.E.M., a band that gained praise and adoration early on for being different and inventive almost seem like they aren't giving it the old college try anymore. While all the usual elements are present, there's none of the exuberance of a "Stand," the social commentary of an "It's the End of the World," and certainly no thoughtful melancholy moments are present like the painfully beautiful "Everybody Hurts." A band that still deserves credit and praise for being solid in times that often prove otherwise, R.E.M. didn't Reveal as much as one would expect from such seasoned performers.

(Editors note - this CD is also available in a limited edition package)

© 2001 Janet Branagan
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