While the preceding UP equaled Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck spending their studio time painstakingly stitching songs together via multiple overdubs, REVEAL finds the Athens trio playing together in the studio along with hired guns Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), Ken Stringfellow (The Posies), and drummer Joey Waronker (Beck). In bouncing back from drummer Bill Berry's departure, the group has emerged with a warm-sounding record bubbling over with dreamy pop songs.
From the opening number "The Lifting", with its swirling textures, sparse piano, and Stipe's plainspoken enunciation, R.E.M. serve up heaping dollops of aural manna. Among the many highlights are the throbbing twang-and-strum of "All The Way To Reno (You're Gonna Be A Star)", which sounds like Mark Knopfler fronting The Flaming Lips, and the faux PET SOUNDS-outtake "Summer Turns To High" with its shimmering keyboards and Stipe's casual falsetto. Elsewhere, R.E.M. fuse Stax-flavoured horns, swooping strings, and a cheap-sounding drum machine for the lighter-than-air "Beachball", and set off on a soaring flight of Rickenbacker guitar jangle soaked in strings and synths on "Imitation Of Life". REVEAL represents R.E.M's rebirth as a mellifluous pop engine.