OK so I am a massive fan of Up. I think it’s their most underated album and for me is their last great album. It’s the sound of a war-weary band trumphantly refusing to die. With Bill leaving they had to deliver something different in the sound (an attempt at trying to deliver another "classic R.E.M. sounding album just wouldn’t have worked so soon after his departure). On the surface it’s a cold sounding record but, at least for me it opens itself up after repeated listens.
I get why it’s not held in such high esteem as other R.E.M. albums but for me at least At My Most Beautiful, You’re In The Air, Why Not Smile, Daysleeper & Falls to Climb are up their with the best of their songs (and side 2 for me is so strong).
On a side note for this album I managed to get a question posted in the Q magazines cash for questions article which is still sadly my greatest claim to fame but got me £50 and I still class it as me and Michael Stipe having a conversation.
Reason I didn’t get any money (or an email) is because went I sent it through by email I was drunk at uni and logged into my flatmates AOL account at the time. I pretty much forgot about it and wasn’t living with him when I saw it in the magazine. Pretty sure I didn’t give any of my personal details so all it said was his email address.
I’ve never properly sat down with Up and have, in all honesty, not really felt any urge to listen to much R.E.M. after New Adventures, despite being a big fan of everything up until then.
But this is, pretty good? Some really nice moments and, whilst it’s definitely a bit long and veering into Dad/Soft-rock territory at times, definitely nowhere near the write-off I expected. I can see myself returning to this in future - the big surprise of this thread for me so far!
I love that two people who were featured in that Q&A are in this thread! Q should do a ‘Cash for questions’ where are you now? feature or something.
I’m kind of surprised it’s largely regarded as a bit of a dip to be honest, but then I’ve never had any issues with the length or tracklisting. I think it’s a great response to losing Berry, that 11 albums in they create something so different to what went before and that it’s full of all these new textures and experimental touches while still sounding natural/unforced.
Airportman is a bit meh, but I get that they’re telegraphing that they are doing something completely different from the outset. So for that reason, I can live with it.
Suspicion, You’re In The Air & Why Not Smile are all gorgeous. At My Most Beautiful is lovely too, but I’m probably burned out on it by now.
Daysleeper, Walk Unafraid and Hope are good slabs of classic R.E.M. with enough arrangement twists in the synths and effected guitars to keep things fresh.
Likewise The Apologist, which I think sums up what’s good about this album without necessarily being the best track – lots of subtle experimentation, percussion, keys, droney noises and a cool, moody riff all held together by a strong melody
Falls to Climb – a great closer, and another of their world weary triumphant songs. Again love how it resolves from distorted noise to something so pretty. Don’t know anyone else who could deliver such ludicrous lines as ‘I’ll be pounce pony, phoney maroney’ without completely ruining the song…
Apparently it’s a play on the song Bony Maroney. Stipe obviously has a strong history of mashing up daft words, and pop culture references etc in his lyrics, but in this instance I agree it’s pretty rubbish. The kind of couplet you’d expect from the Black Eyed Peas…
Ok, I think the Up discussion has probably run its course. I think I’ve subconsciously been playing for time given that I can’t stand this next record and last time I listened to it I ended up pretty grumpy.
I’m prepared to give it one last chance this time though, and anything I can come away better than loathing, I’ll consider a raging success. So admittedly with some degree of meh and whatever…
This stood up a lot better for me than I remembered. For some reason I always thought that there were quite a few clunkers, but not the case. Lotus is the obvious stand out in that regard, but even that’s not bad.
As I mentioned earlier Why Not Smile is gorgeous, had completely forgotten about it. Suspicion is also brilliant. I retain a sentimental soft spot for At My Most Beautiful as I put it on the first mixtape I ever made for my wife.
I do think the lift of the melody from Suzanne by Leonard Cohen is a bit blatant, but Hope is still a great song.
Yes, really solid album… not a top 5 REM (or close) but beats Document, possibly Green & Out Of Time too for me.
Sorry for the late reply but I’ve just finished listening to Up whilst cooking. And I have to say it’s the most I’ve ever enjoyed it. A bit bloated, a few duds here and there, awful sequencing (already mentioned above), but at the same time there are a ton of great songs on it.
It’s not a classic album, not a classic R.E.M album, and as a whole it’s extremely weirdly less than the sum of its parts. But it is R.E.M’s most experimental effort and mostly a success, so I was too hard on it before. Thanks to everyone for convincing me to give it another chance