Sound — 8
Fables of the Reconstruction was intentionally murky, and Lifes Rich Pageant was constructed as it's polar opposite. R.E.M. have developed their most forceful record to date. Where previous records kept the rhythm section in the background, Pageant emphasizes the beat, and the band turns in it's hardest rockers to date, including the anthemic "Begin the Begin" and the punky "Just a Touch." But the cleaner production also benefits the ballads and the mid-tempo janglers, particularly since it helps reveal Michael Stipe's growing political obsessions, especially on the environmental anthems "Fall on Me" and "Cuyahoga." The group hasn't entirely left myths behind witness the Civil War ballad "Swan Swan H" but the band sound more contemporary both musically and lyrically than they did on either Fables or Murmur, which helps give the record an extra kick. And even with excellent songs like "I Believe," "Flowers of Guatemala," "These Days," and "What if We Give It Away," it's ironic that the most memorable moment comes from the garage rock obscurity "Superman," which is sung with glee by Mike Mills.
Lyrics — 8
Listening to the first few albums it seems R.E.M. lacked confidence, Forget about tagging Michael Stipe as Mr. Mumbles, whatever he was hiding before he is strutting it now, And it's great to hear his excellent voice throught this album. Though R.E.M.'s lyrics can sometimes still be a little cryptic some songs such as "Fall On Me" and "The Flowers Of Guatemala have enviromental messages in them.
Overall Impression — 8
The most impressive thing about the album is the bands willingness to come out of there shell, And they ooze confidence from start to finish. The most impressive songs are "Begin The Begin," "Fall On Me" and "Superman" a Cliques cover sung by bassist Mike Mills. I fit was lost or stolen I would certainly but another one as it is an important album to have in a good R.E.M. fan's collection.