Around The Sun Image

Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 100 Ratings

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  • Summary: 'Sun' is the 13th studio disc for R.E.M., who are joined here by frequent collaborators Ken Stringfellow and Scott McCaughey. Q-Tip also guest raps on "The Outsiders."
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 27
  2. Negative: 3 out of 27
  1. 80
    Often recalls 1992's Automatic For The People in its sobriety of purpose. [Nov 2004, p.100]
  2. R.E.M. still have the remarkable distinction of never once producing a bad album, but this is perhaps the biggest example yet of the group merely treading water, whereas once they majestically swam.
  3. Unfortunately, things do go awry more than a few times.
  4. Its sporadic pockets of accessibility aside, it's difficult to listen to Around the Sun without hearing it as a holding pattern, or worse, a piece of product released simply to keep the R.E.M. brand out among the public.
  5. The good news is things pick up, eventually. The bad news is the album ends just as it starts getting interesting.
  6. R.E.M. have never seemed as directionless.
  7. 20
    Weak poetry set to any music sucks, let alone this plodding folk-lite. [#13, p.90]

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 70
  2. Negative: 9 out of 70
  1. Aug 30, 2012
    Around The Sun is NOT Sh*t. OK, that's the worst album R.E.M. have ever made, but it's not so horrible as people says. The problem is the limp sound, but the songs are ok. Leaving New York and Aftermath are very good, and there other songs that don't sound bad (Electron Blue, Final Straw, ecc.)
    Always better than that garbage we must listen now.
  2. Apr 5, 2012
    I'm a massive R.E.M fan and have to say this record was a real let down. I know Reveal got a lukewarm reception in some quarters but I thought it was quite good, albeit not up with their absolute best work. Around the Sun however is the sound of a band that seem bored with themselves and what they do. It lacks energy and imagination and in too many places its just boring and bland. I'm still going to give it a 7 though as I do think the fact that it was brought out by a band of R.E.M's stature goes against the album. There are some good songs on it - "Leaving New York", "High Speed Train" and the title track are all very good and there are plenty of tracks on here that when heard played live by the band sound a lot more vibrant. It's definitely a record I feel came across better when it was played live which would suggest the production just wasn't up to scratch. Expand
  3. Nov 25, 2010
    This is a bad r.e.m. album. it's not a bad album period, but for r.e.m., a band which had previously never made albums that were less than solid and were usually incredibly unique listening experiences, it's a let-down. Nothing about this album is unique or original, either in the short term or long term. the album retains the electronics and technicalities of up and reveal, yet where those albums sounded rich and even somewhat organic, this one sounds stale and compressed. In the context of rock history, damn, this album sounds like it could've been a #1 record in 1988 (Dream of Life, anyone?). Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA and even the more recent The Rising also come to my mind. The running order of tracks on Around the Sun, that's a whole new problem. seriously, who decided that leaving new york qualified as the opening track for the album (unless it was for the sheer sake of 9/11 sympathy)? It's a solid ballad with very passionate vocals from Michael Stipe - although it could've been sped up a little. Electron Blue sounds much more like an opening track, even though it isn't very good. the outsiders is just as dull and uninspired, but the q-tip cameo feels completely out-of-place in an r.e.m. world and is uncomfortable to listen to. Make it All OK sounds really similar to the previous song, and, alas, so too does the next song Final Straw. Finally we get an eventful-sounding redeeming piece with I Wanted To Be Wrong, which is pleasant earcandy and great for relaxing. (When the drums kick in, it reminds me very much of their song 'Tongue' off of Monster). Wander Lust is another sub-par song with stipey choosing the most awkward notes vocally. The Boy In The Well is okay, but its Aftermath that steals the show on this album. Definitely one of the more upbeat tunes here, the melody is memorable and stipe's vocals and lyrics are highly emotional. A real keeper of a song, despite the nearly distracting overproduction which is a mainstay on this album. High Speed Train is creepy but, again, isn't very original in context of the album and not very r.e.m.-like. The Worst Joke Ever is pretty good, another minor highlight, with some of stipe's best singing on the album. The Ascent of Man is the sound of 50-year-old men trying to sound sexy. it's not very impressive. Finally, Around the Sun ends the album on a decidedly uneventful note. This is a monotonous album, in one of the worst ways possible. almost every single song is a ballad of some sort, and most of the songs are largely drum-less (still understandable at this point) and SLOW. So flow is, eh... Again, this has a lot to do with the production, which is dedicated to making the band sound as urban, industrial and U2-esque as possible. The lyrics as well are less obscure and more in line with the kind of lyrics Bono would write around this same time. R.E.M. are a pop band, for sure, but only by coincidence. They were huge in the late '80s and '90s because they made songs that were really darn catchy, not because they 'sounded' like everything else (their biggest hit was carried by a chorus-less tune carried by a mandolin, for god sakes!). With this album, they sound like the stereotypical kind of pop music, a brand just like any boy band in the market. The elements of the original R.E.M. are for sure in here (buck's chiming guitar, mills' backing vocals and bass), but they are buried and hard to locate in the heavy mix of glossy synthesizers. More than ever, the lack of enthusiasm (and bill berry) shows. It seems that, for the majority of this album, Michael Stipe's voice is the only saving grace. For the not serious R.E.M. fan, these tunes should do just fine, but for the real fans, we deserve a better collection of songs. Thank god the band understood that and released their huge comeback in 2008 with 'Accelerate' (still had some overproduction issues, but this time the songs were actually REALLY GOOD!). Verdict: The worst R.E.M. made so far. Dull, monotonous, and sorely lacking in the old-fashioned R.E.M. style. It already sounds incredibly dated. Don't buy the album, unless you're REALLY curious and a risk-taker. Highlights: Leaving New York, I Wanted to Be Wrong, Aftermath Expand
  4. Jul 22, 2011
    R.E.M.'s worst to date, despite quality material like "Leaving New York" sprinkling up occasionally. Most of these are just poorly written piano ballads that make me long for the days when an R.E.M. ballad meant "Perfect Circle," "Camera," "Wendell Gee" or most of Automatic for the People, not "I Wanted to Be Wrong" or "Boy in the Well." Expand

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