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R.E.M. | Reveal (Warner Brothers)
No words can express yes really they can't and I'm just sitting here with a dictionary a mere mouse click away and can't think of a thing yes from the bubbling intro of The Lifting you're dumbstruck yes the song rising from beneath loops and noise to stand proud against the dawn and as soon as Stipe sings "the air was singing it's calling you" you're gone and this is just the start yes the scratchy electronic intro of I've Been High recedes to allow the fragile song to float out yes now you know what you're dealing with yes the unknown yes more sumptuous than Up yes layered with strings and keys meaning the title takes a while to unveil itself yes each play giving you a bit more yes until you sit slumped yes head bowed yes muttering 'we're not worthy' yes the songs yes like the album as a whole yes build yes the pleasure rising as the intensity increases yes She Just Wants To Be does this to perfection yes but then so do the others yes every addition of the track counter finds a new favourite yes until you stop deciding and just let it happen yes Beat A Drum could be Jonathan Richman lyrically yes but Michael's diphthong vocal takes it into another dimension yes the pop song single Imitation Of Life slots in nicely ahead of the Beach Boys-esque Summer Turns To High yes which warms you up for the Greek Tragedy of the ending yes Chorus And The Ring and its refrain "that's when the insults start to sting" cuts deep before I'll Take The Rain pours the salt yes from the simple strummed intro it just soars yes taking to the air with the line "I used to think as birds take wing they sing through life so why can't we?" yes it's a truly epic song yes building until it can't go further and then reaching twelve yes grown men will weep openly when it's played yes hell yes even Pit Bull Terriers will lay down and whimper yes as the strings die so do you yes the noble odyssey embarked upon at the start has ended tragically yes the hero is alone and unloved and resigned to their fate yes the Sirens have claimed another victim yes until yes Beachball clops along yes full of a natural kind of joy and regaling us with tales of "well Tequila'd guys who smile at strangers" yes suddenly what could have been a tragically sad album is turned on its head yes the role reversed yes the sky is blue yes the day is saved yes Penelope is rescued and the world looks great as Ulysses watches the sun set yes you feel the warmth with him and bask in it yes still unable to find superlatives for this record yes yes goddammit yes yes the closing line is "you'll do fine" yes.

Laurence Arnold
June-July 2001

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