R.E.M. have no right at this advanced stage in their career to be making such a spirited and beautiful
album as Reveal. Twenty years after "Radio Free Europe," they're still jiggy as year-old pups. Reveal is the sound of
a band that's beyond feeling the need to change or to prove themselves to each new generation, but retains its passion.
Michael Stipe's voice is at its most evocatively beautiful on "I've Been High," and Peter Buck's eclectic tunes continue
along the highly accessible vein mined on 1998's Up. Stipe continues his emergence as an up-front vocalist whose lyrics,
if never entirely self-explanatory, now make ingenious use of more readily identifiable phrases, images, and vignettes.
Hovering over much of the album is the spirit of Brian Wilson, whose genius is echoed in "Beachball" and almost transcended
in the astonishingly plangent "Summer Turns to High." With so much to live up to, it's not far short of astonishing that
R.E.M. can still come up with a song such as the gorgeously chiming and shimmering "Imitation of Life," which, on its own,
is worth the price of admission. But, from the first synthesizer swirls of the opener "The Lifting" onward, there's nary a
dud to be heard on Reveal.