Around The Sun
April 5, 2008
“Around The Sun” is the first title track of R.E.M.’s career, but ironically, it’s not particularly representative of the album that bears its name. Whereas much of the Around The Sun album leans on adult contemporary balladry and synthetic gloss, “Around The Sun” the song comes off like a hybrid of the folksy jangle of the band’s IRS period and the solemn beauty of Automatic For The People. It’s one of the few unqualified successes on the record; a number that allows the band to play to some of their greatest strengths as songwriters and as musicians. If much of the problem with Around The Sun comes down to the group overworking their material out of a fear of repeating themselves, this song shows just how unnecessary it is for them to be anything but themselves. It also goes to show how that impulse can lead to self-sabotage — there’s a moment halfway through “Around The Sun” where the tune could either get bigger, like “Man On The Moon,” or sorta drift away into a gentle reverie. They opt for the latter, and though it’s definitely quite lovely, it’s hard not to get the feeling that they deliberately kept the song from reaching its full potential.