Doug Brod
October 08, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Around the Sun

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
R.E.M.
Producers
Warner Bros.

We gave it a B-

On the decidedly downbeat affair, Around the Sun, Michael Stipe & Co. finally reveal they have no interest in playing ”rock” anymore — not necessarily a bad thing, considering that the elegiac ”Leaving New York” starts the album off strongly. But how to explain Q-Tip’s limp guest rap on ”The Outsiders”? Our guess is that he was recruited while they were all chilling with Elton at Donatella’s. Still, as arena folk goes, R.E.M. remain cooler than, say, the Wallflowers. Just barely.

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