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R. E. M.: Up

Sylvie Simmons, MOJO, November 1998

R.E.M., MORE than just about any band you can name, were whacked mightily with the Great Rock Dilemma stick: how does an intelligent, introspective, underground rock band deal with becoming an intelligent, introspective behemoth? How do you communicate intimately with a great mass who need glory songs to wave lighters to? The choruses get bigger and the stages get bigger and the lights so bright that the fuzzy, mumbled edges disappear, and pretty soon Michael Stipe, the one under the brightest light, isn't suffering with us, he's suffering for us. You can see why they had to do something like Monster; to get that fucked-up and out there to find their way again. If New Adventures sold disappointingly, at least R.E.M. – like Neil Young – have the kind of loyal, smart core-crowd that shrug and stick around for the next record.

Total word count of piece: 1837