Warner Bros.

Aging like fine wine, pop-rock icons R.E.M. continue to abide by their trademark sweet natured sound on Reveal. A slightly less experimental effort than its predecessor, Up, Reveal shows a near completeness that the band has been striving for since the departure of drummer Bill Berry. Michael Stipe continues on his abstract lyrical introspection amidst swirling keyboards, drum machines, and lulling textures, as on the meditative “I’ve Been High.” Peter Buck and Mike Mills utilize their instrumental aptitude to fluctuate with a certain poignancy and reservation through each song.

It does prove beneficial for R.E.M. that they are accompanied by several contributing musicians, including former Beck drummer Joey Waronker. It’s quite astonishing. The first single, “Imitation Of Life,” sees the band nestling so comfortably in their familiar rhythmic framework that it is both unsurprising and irresistible. Although definitely not the best R.E.M. release, Reveal sees the threesome evoking haunting, warm melodies, taking cautious baby steps towards being a “whole” band again. It’s worth it to the band and fans young and old to tune into this revelation and renaissance of sorts.

Warner Bros. Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91506-4694; http://www.wbr.com

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