R.E.M.
Reveal


3.0
good

Review

by Pechorin USER (23 Reviews)
February 1st, 2006 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist


In the late 1980's, R.E.M. became known as the founders of the American alternative rock scene. They found a way to blend diverse styles such as punk, folk, and pop together to produce a light, jangly sound that was completely original at the time, yet still chock-full of good hooks that kept fans looking for more. In 1988, they were finally signed to a major label, and by 1992, they were arguably the biggest rock band in the world with the release of their masterpiece Automatic for the People. Everything was looking up for the Athens, Georgia-based quartet. But Monster loomed on the horizon. Often considered the start of their demise, the 1994 album (which I think is quite good) was considered weak and cheesy. New Adventures in Hi-Fi was a slight consolation to the older fans, but soon thereafter, drummer Bill Berry (and his infamous mondo-brow) retired from the band to become a farmer. Likewise, the 1998 album Up was considered anything but a turn in the right direction.

This is the background behind Reveal, the red-headed stepchild of R.E.M. albums. It was received with mixed results. Some people, such as Nacho considered it to be the nadir of the band's career. Others though it was a step in the right direction; Amazon.com even considered it a best of 2001 album. As for myself, I fall somewhere in between. I found it along with Out of Time in the bargain bin at Media Play for a combined $8.00 (USD). Being an avid fan, I quickly snatched the albums up and bought them.

Reveal is quite a difficult record to get. I was expecting something similar to the type of material released from R.E.M.'s late-'80's heyday. What I got was quite different. I quickly went the route of most people who bought the album, leaving it to rot near the bottom of my CD stack. However, once I moved into my college dorm, I started listening again. Call it boredom, hometown pride, or insanity, but I started to appreciate the album more and more with each listen.

In short, this is R.E.M. for adults; Reveal is their Fettuccini Alfredo compared to Life's Rich Pageant's mac-'n-cheese sound. Gone are the hyper songs about Superman and the end of the world. Often called a Michael Stipe album, it's much lighter, more produced, and lyrically clear than the albums of the '80's. Though different from the R.E.M. of old, it shows how a band that has released seventeen albums evolves over their 20+ year career matures.

On first listen, you'll notice that the album is very relaxed and ambient-sounding. There are even some tracks like I've Been High that are entirely done with electronics. Overall, though, the album may quickly turn you off with its drastically different sound for R.E.M. However, one of my suggestions is to listen to it with headphones. You'll start to notice some extra background ambient noises and other subtle things. From the upbeat (for this album) The Lifting through the calm, Brian Wilson-esque Beachball, you hear a light, adult alternative album that will grow on you after a few listens. No, it isn't the vintage R.E.M. we all love, but if you try not to approach it as an old-style R.E.M. album, you may find yourself liking it.

Although I generally praise the album, it's quite obviously not the best one they have done, as it is quite inconsistent in some places. Overall, it is definitely a mood album, so it isn't versatile at all. Some tracks, such as All the Way to Reno drag on so long, you really think you're going to be in Reno by the time you're finished. When the album hits, it hits dead-on, but when it misses, it really fails. This is one of the reasons it isn't among my top albums by the group.

All in all, this album could be easily enjoyed while just kicking back and relaxing on a rainy day. The light, airy sound definitely has the potential for adverse reactions by old-school fans who are thinking that it will be another Murmur or Reckoning. If that's what you are looking for, stay away from this album and find something else. However, if you look at the album as a work on its own, you'll see that it realy isn't as bad as some people say.

Pros:

R.E.M. proves they are maturing
Strong Tracks are very good
Has a unique sound for the time period

Cons:

Does not sound like the R.E.M. of old
Very inconsistent and not versatile
Weak tracks are very weak

Favorite Tracks:

The Lifting
She Just Wants to Be
Beat a Drum
Imitation of Life
I'll Take the Rain




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user ratings (193)
Chart.
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
MasterSan (2.5)
Happier than [i]Up[/i], if that's saying anything....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
February 1st 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. It was infomrmative yet brief, you showed a little bit of personal opinion but that's fine with me considering that this album is so controversial.
I think that this is a great album. The electronic influences were a tough adjustment, but when I don't compare this to other R.E.M. albums I really enjoy it.

Pechorin
February 1st 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The electronic things are what made the album . I know I let my opinion through in the review, but I tried to be fairly objective in the score. I think the controversy lies in the fact that people are expecting a Reckoning or Automatic for the People. If it were released by another group, I think it would be lauded as great. Anyhow, is it taking things too far to say I hear a bit of Flaming Lips with some of the horn arrangements on here?This Message Edited On 02.01.06

mx
Moderator
February 1st 2006


733 Comments


Paul, you are absolutely prolific lately.

Aeaon
February 1st 2006


188 Comments


Mediocre as hell.This Message Edited On 04.02.06

Pechorin
February 1st 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=mx]Paul, you are absolutely prolific lately.[/quote]

Sorry...My classes have let up, I'm having trouble sleeping as of late, and the Pit has been rather slow lately. I'm don't know why I'm suddenly doing all of this, but it should slow down pretty soon.

mx
Moderator
February 1st 2006


733 Comments


Lol, no its great. They are great reviews, and really appreciated

Pechorin
February 1st 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No binge. I think I actually had a LRP review in the old format. I know that my version of Document was in the old area. When I saw LRP was missing here, I decided I needed to do it and Reveal for good measure. And I have to represent the hometown, you know? I was actually going to do this one earlier today, and did the Elton John thing on a whim. I need some homework or a girlfriend or something...Who knows? I may eventually do Dead Letter Office or Eponymous. I have another review or two I'd like to see get done. We'll just have to see.

mx
Moderator
February 1st 2006


733 Comments


Why did you give it a '3' in your review, and a '4' in your user rating?

Pechorin
February 1st 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I heard people such as Nacho say it was complete garbage, and the average rating on Amazon was something like 3.5-ish. The bands overview of R.E.M. on here also mentions Reveal in a rea;;y bad light, albiet breifly. I really liked it, but I thought I would be the only one who thought so. I thought It would be a fanboy-ish rating if I gave it what I thought it deserved, to be honest. (I actually had it a 2.5 at first). Maybe I just underestimated its popularity, though.

ocelot-05
February 1st 2006


807 Comments


"I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs."
What a great song.

Pechorin
February 1st 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great Beyond is a great song. That's not this album, though. I think it was from the Andy Kaufman movie a few years ago. Not sure if they made a studio release of it except for on In Time.

Med57
Moderator
February 2nd 2006


1001 Comments


Dude, I dig your reviews. I thought about doing this yesterday after seeing your latest, but this is a really good review. Again, I disagree with the rating. This is better than Around The Sun, which I'd now give about a 1.5, but it's still pretty average. Apart from Imitation Of Life, which I love. Anyway, keep it up.

JohnXDoesn't
February 2nd 2006


1283 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, Paul. You really have a handle on these guys. And lol at Nacho. When I first came to MX me and him would have great discussions about REM's last three albums. I rather like them. He does not, to say the least. Even Up grew well on me after repeated listenings. Reveal is a sweet album, indeed. Great modern pop album. It's funny, if REM were a new band people would be like "OMG, fantastic". Because on it's own terms this is good stuff. But since it's REM people go, "meh". Oh, and New Adventures In Hi - Fi is an underrated gem, IMO. If no one has done it yet, here I come with it. This Message Edited On 02.02.06

Pechorin
February 2nd 2006


160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Med -- As for the rating, that's why it's only a 3 overall and a 4 for me. It's a love/hate album, so I thought I'd go for the middle ground.

John -- I have to be up on them; I do live in their town, after all. :cool: I know Nacho's a fan. Back in the old days, I got him to buy Document with my review. The rest is history. As for the last three albums, I only heard Lotus from Up. I know a lot of people slam it, but I'm still eventually going to get it. As for New Adventures in Hi-Fi, that's one of the three R.E.M. albums I don't yet own (the last being Around the Sun). I look forward to the review.

bsd987
October 25th 2006


3 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

The point where even bad R.E.M. became unbearable. At least on Up, there were two great tracks which showed R.E.M.'s genius. Here, the only thing that even borders on great is "I'll Take the Rain." This is sad.

AtavanHalen
December 19th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Epic bumpage, but I'm really enjoying this atm. 2000s R.E.M. is critically underrated.



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