There seems to be a common template when reviewing an R.E.M. album these days - 'something something Bill Berry something 'Green' something something it's not 'Document' something.'
In this month's Q magazine, this album gets a bit of a trashing. It got 2 stars, which is a total, total nonsense. I'll bet you a shiny penny that the reviewer has a beard.
What you need to know is that those reviews, and indeed this one, are, ultimately, worthless. The only thing that matters is the music. At least I'll try to review it without looking at Big Bird's Big Book of Big Words.
I'm a massive R.E.M. fan, have been for most of my life, but I'm not blind to their failings. Of which this ISN'T one of them.
In my OPINION, I think it's the best thing they've done for years. It's easily the best of their post-Berry releases, after a run of disappointing (but not completely void of merit) recent albums.
One of the things I like about this album is Mike Mills' backing vocals, which are featured prominently. I've always liked the way his and Michael Stipe's voices play off each other. There's an impressive list of guests too, including Eddie Vedder, Peaches, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye.
Personal highlights for me include 'Mine Smell Like Honey', 'Oh My Heart', 'Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando And I' and 'Discoverer'. There's a nice variety, which has been lacking recently. They've struck the balance quite nicely between big breathtaking rockers and slower acoustic numbers.
What's great to hear now though is that it sounds like a band that have rediscovered their purpose, that they're no longer just doing it because they don't know what else to do. There's still beauty and greatness in 'Reveal' and 'Around The Sun' and 'Accelerate' if you look for it, but here you don't have to. It's apparent from the moment you push play. In my opinion.
Actual, correct star rating: 4.5/5