Metascore
56

Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 27
  2. Negative: 3 out of 27
  1. As the songs unfold over multiple listens, though, what becomes clear is that R.E.M. still has plenty to say, and plenty of interesting ways to say it.
  2. 80
    Often recalls 1992's Automatic For The People in its sobriety of purpose. [Nov 2004, p.100]
  3. Undercut by passion and urgency. [Jan 2005, p.113]
  4. 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.
  5. Structure trumps texture throughout: "Make It All OK" is a formally tight breakup ballad, with spiritual overtones, that could fit neatly on a good singer-songwriter record, and others are arranged semi-acoustically, highlighting Stipe's cleanest melodies and most inviting vocal performances in years.
  6. 67
    This is a low-spark affair. [Nov 2004, p.112]
  7. Unfortunately, things do go awry more than a few times.
  8. As arena folk goes, R.E.M. remain cooler than, say, the Wallflowers. Just barely. [8 Oct 2004, p.114]
  9. A noncommittal aura undermines Michael Stipe's most personal, poetic and moving set of lyrics in years. [3 Oct 2004]
  10. The first REM album to really disappoint. [2 Oct 2004, p.60]
  11. 60
    R.E.M.'s recent albums have increasingly resembled singer-songwriter records. Around The Sun is much the best of the last three... because the tunes are better. [Nov 2004, p.140]
  12. The less a-political songs fall far short of REM's extremely high standards. [#8, p.111]
  13. 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.
  14. Sound[s] less like the work of an actual band than a sterile concoction created by scientists in white lab coats.
  15. Its chief problem is that every word, every note, and every instrument sounds dry, sapped of most of their personality.
  16. The good news is things pick up, eventually. The bad news is the album ends just as it starts getting interesting.
  17. The band's writing stagnates, rendering the majority of the album in a rote midtempo formula that Stipe's increasingly trite lyrics can't always save.
  18. However different the early and mid-period records are, they all sounded daring, fresh, and inspired in their own ways. Compare that to the lifeless "High Speed Train" which plods along in perfectly measured time for the longest five minutes I've ever experienced with the band.
  19. In eliminating both the mystery of its early years and the restless spirit of more recent times, R.E.M. leaves just exactly what R.E.M.-haters probably felt the band made all along: midtempo, largely hookless adult rock.
  20. Relentlessly, frustratingly slow. [Nov 2004, p.108]
  21. Where the two remaining musicians in the band appear to have gone astray, Michael Stipe sounds positively lost, never to be found again.
  22. R.E.M. have never seemed as directionless.
  23. 40
    The first out-and-out dull R.E.M. album. [Oct 2004, p.97]
  24. Lifeless, as if the air had been sucked from the band's lungs.
  25. Repeated plays just refuse to reveal hidden depths. There aren‘t any. “Around The Sun” is just a really poor album, probably the first one that this band has ever put out.
  26. 20
    Weak poetry set to any music sucks, let alone this plodding folk-lite. [#13, p.90]
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 101 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 71
  2. Negative: 10 out of 71
  1. Oct 26, 2014
    1
    I love virtually all REM albums. Some are greater than others, but there's none that I'd writeoff wholesale. Apart from this.
    I bought this
    I love virtually all REM albums. Some are greater than others, but there's none that I'd writeoff wholesale. Apart from this.
    I bought this on CD (remember those?) and desperately spun it, looking for any hint of the genius of the band who'd made Murmer, Automatic for the People, New Adventures, Green. Nope, nothing.
    I went to sell it back to a second hand shop, but they seemingly had entire tables full of this album, from others who had recognised its inner drabness immediately, so i walked out and just stuck the entire disc in the bin.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 30, 2012
    7
    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 limpAround 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.
    Full Review »
  3. Apr 5, 2012
    7
    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 thoughtI'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. Full Review »