Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

R.E.M.: New Adventures in Hi-Fi [Warner Bros., 1996]
Two years of road adventures, such as they were, that fuse spontaneity and arena scale. At sound checks and ad hoc local studios, Michael Stipe preaches and exhorts more than he rambles or muses, Mike Mills spelunks with keybs, and Peter Buck pumps the folk-rock jangle that broadened Amerindie's first wave. Nothing epochal, and there's poetry in that--the poetry of a nominal community that has learned how to keep its dreams modest and enjoy them that way. But for all the reliable melodies, momenta, and FX--love the siren on "Leave," guys--there's also routine in it. A-