‘Electron Blue’ is lead singer Michael Stipe’s favorite track from this album, and one of his favorite R.E.M. songs, period. I like it well enough, and agree that it’s a highlight of an otherwise unforgettable album, but I’m sorry, this doesn’t stand up to the best of R.E.M., not even close.
2004’s Around the Sun was R.E.M.’s unlucky 13th album, the third without drummer Bill Berry and their most uninspired effort. Only this song and one or two others are worth hearing.
Three and a half years after Reveal failed to set the world on fire, R.E.M. released their most disappointing album yet — 2004’s Around the Sun. Oddly, I have sort of the opposite reaction to this record than I do to Reveal… I find myself wanting to like it even as the songs fall flat. I guess it’s the part of me that likes rooting for the underdog.
It’s also the part of me that wanted to believe that one of my most beloved bands hadn’t simply lost it. Two disappointments in a row following a strong but very out-of-character album… it seemed as if the loss of Bill Berry really had fundamentally changed R.E.M. This was a new band, and a worse one.