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. New Musical Express (NME)
    60
    The first REM album to really disappoint. [2 Oct 2004, p.60]
  2. Blender
    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]
  3. Under The Radar
    60
    The less a-political songs fall far short of REM's extremely high standards. [#8, p.111]
  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. Sound[s] less like the work of an actual band than a sterile concoction created by scientists in white lab coats.
  6. Its chief problem is that every word, every note, and every instrument sounds dry, sapped of most of their personality.
  7. The good news is things pick up, eventually. The bad news is the album ends just as it starts getting interesting.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Q Magazine
    40
    Relentlessly, frustratingly slow. [Nov 2004, p.108]
  12. Where the two remaining musicians in the band appear to have gone astray, Michael Stipe sounds positively lost, never to be found again.
  13. R.E.M. have never seemed as directionless.
  14. Mojo
    40
    The first out-and-out dull R.E.M. album. [Oct 2004, p.97]
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 103 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 68 out of 103
  2. Negative: 13 out of 103
  1. 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 »
  2. 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 »
  3. May 29, 2017
    3
    I loved ''Leaving New York'' and so bought this. I soon wished I hadn't...
    As an avid REM fan, I was hugely disappointed by this. This is
    I loved ''Leaving New York'' and so bought this. I soon wished I hadn't...
    As an avid REM fan, I was hugely disappointed by this. This is undoubtedly the lowest moment of their musical career. All of the Stipe-Esque lyrical style is there, but much of the lyrics seem to make little sense; perhaps only to the band themselves. They sound like Stipe wrote them whilst drunk.
    Musically, the album does little better. There are a few brighter moments - Leaving New York, the Outsiders and Final Score being among them, though they are hardly true classics.
    Even the Outsiders is ruined by a dreadful rap from Q-Tip (heard of him? me neither...) which has been inserted towards the end of an otherwise perfect and atmospheric tune.
    Other than these songs, the rest of the album really is a bore; full of plodding, slow paced and poorly written material.
    Avoid this at all costs, even if you're an avid REM fan...
    Full Review »