Rolling Stone - p.993 stars out of 5
- "R.E.M. here resemble their classic selves."
Rolling Stone - p.151
Included in Rolling Stone's Top 50 Records Of 2004 - "[A] disc of frankly spiritual and acutely topical protest ballads, draped in futuristic PET SOUNDS strum and hum."
Spin - pp.112-14
"AROUND THE SUN is R.E.M.'s return to folk-rock chamber music..." - Grade: B-
Uncut - p.1004 stars out of 5
- "These 13 songs are sung by people exhausted by the trials of their country, haunted by ghosts of its promise, tentatively hopeful of renewal or reconciliation."
Uncut - p.75Ranked #16
in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "[A] set of powerfully reflective songs populated by the walking wounded rather than shiny happy people."
Alternative Press - p.113
"Thirteen studio albums into their career, R.E.M. can still throw listeners for a loop. 'The Outsiders' is as velvety smooth as Massive Attack..." - 4 out of 5
R.E.M.: Michael Stipe (vocals); Peter Buck (guitar); Mike Mills (bass guitar).
Additional personnel: Q-Tip (rap vocals); Hahn Rowe , Ken Stringfellow, Scott McCaughey, Bill Rieflin, Jamie Candiloro.
Since the careening, ragged Reckoning followed the hazy, dreamlike Murmur, each R.E.M. album had an element of a surprise, offering something different than what came before. That's not the case with Around the Sun, which refines and polishes the blueprint of Reveal. This is as slow and ballad-heavy as Automatic for the People, but where that album was filled with raw emotion and weird detours, Around the Sun is tasteful and streamlined. It offers no weighty themes and is emotionally removed. With their layered, low-key production, R.E.M. seem hell-bent on leaving behind anything that could be construed as their signature sound, so keyboards and drum machines are pushed to the front as Buck's guitar strums instead of jangles and Mills' background vocals are buried in the mix under Stipe's double-tracked harmonies. All the quirks in the production have been sanded down and glossed over. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine