Around the Sun

Around the Sun is the 13th studio album by the American alternative rock band R.E.M., released in October 2004 on Warner Bros. Records.

Around the Sun
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 5, 2004 (2004-10-05)
RecordedEarly 2003 – early 2004
GenreAlternative rock
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerPat McCarthy, R.E.M.
R.E.M. chronology
Perfect Square
Around the Sun
iTunes Originals – R.E.M.
Singles from Around the Sun
  1. "Leaving New York"
    Released: September 27, 2004
  2. "Aftermath"
    Released: November 29, 2004
  3. "Electron Blue"
    Released: February 28, 2005
  4. "Wanderlust"
    Released: July 11, 2005
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Entertainment WeeklyB−[4]
The Guardian[5]
Los Angeles Times[6]
Rolling Stone[9]


Bassist Mike Mills with touring multi-instrumentalist Ken Stringfellow on the Around the Sun Tour in 2004; the light show was typical of the stage design.

The album was released in two editions: CD only, and a limited-edition box set with the CD and fold-out posters by 14 different artists illustrating the songs.[12]

"The Outsiders" features a guest appearance by rapper Q-Tip. When the song was performed live, Michael Stipe carried out the rap, as he did on a later B-side release of the song.

"Final Straw" is a politically charged song. The version on the album is a remix of the original version, which was made available as a free download on March 25, 2003 from the band's website. The song was written in protest of the U.S. government's actions in the Iraq War. The song evolved from an instrumental demo titled "Harlan County with Whistling", recorded during the sessions for the band's 1994's album Monster and released with its 25th anniversary edition in 2019.[13]

Around the Sun was the first of only two R.E.M. albums to include a title track (the second being its follow-up, Accelerate). The album was also a first for R.E.M. in that it was their first to feature Bill Rieflin, the band's de facto replacement for former drummer Bill Berry, who had retired in 1997. Although Rieflin was never officially inducted into the band as a member, he would serve as a regular auxiliary musician for R.E.M. until their dissolution in 2011.[14]


Around the Sun was met with mixed to negative reviews from critics noted at review aggregator Metacritic. This release received a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 27 reviews.[1] Despite hitting #1 in the UK, it became their first studio album to miss the U.S. Top 10 (reaching #13 with 7 weeks in the Billboard 200) since 1988's Green and is still awaiting a gold record. As of March 2007, Around the Sun had sold 2 million copies worldwide and 232,000 units in the U.S.[15] This is less than R.E.M. had sold in the first week of an album's release while at their early to mid-1990s commercial peak.

Lead single "Leaving New York" became a UK Top 5 hit, with additional singles "Aftermath", "Electron Blue" and "Wanderlust" becoming minor hits there as well. Around the Sun did not have any singles success in the United States, however. It was the band's first studio album to fail to have a song chart on the Hot 100 since Fables of the Reconstruction in 1985.

After the release of their following album, Accelerate, guitarist Peter Buck said that for him Around the Sun "... just wasn't really listenable, because it sounds like what it is, a bunch of people that are so bored with the material that they can't stand it anymore."[16] The album's songs were largely excluded from the band's live setlists after the release of Accelerate.


In 2005, Warner Bros. Records issued an expanded two-disc edition of Around the Sun which includes a CD, a DVD-Audio disc containing a 5.1-channel surround sound mix of the album done by Elliot Scheiner, and the original CD booklet with expanded liner notes.

A remix of the song "Final Straw" appeared earlier in 2004 on the compilation album Future Soundtrack for America.

Track listing

All songs written by Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe.

  1. "Leaving New York" – 4:49
  2. "Electron Blue" – 4:12
  3. "The Outsiders" (feat. Q-Tip) – 4:14
  4. "Make It All Okay" – 3:44
  5. "Final Straw" – 4:07
  6. "I Wanted to Be Wrong" – 4:35
  7. "Wanderlust" – 3:03
  8. "Boy in the Well" – 5:22
  9. "Aftermath" – 3:55
  10. "High Speed Train" – 5:02
  11. "The Worst Joke Ever" – 3:38
  12. "The Ascent of Man" – 4:07
  13. "Around the Sun" – 4:28



Additional musicians

Technical personnel

  • Chris Bilheimer – packaging
  • Oswald "Wiz" Bowe – assistant engineer
  • Jim Briggs III – assistant engineer
  • DeWitt Burton – technical assistance
  • Alex Dixon – assistant
  • Bertis Downs – advisor
  • Thomas Roman Dozol – photography, cover photo
  • Bryan Gallant – assistant
  • Ted Jensen – mastering
  • Patrick McCarthy – producer, mixing
  • Kirk McNally – assistant engineer
  • Javier Valverde – assistant engineer
  • Bob Whittaker – technical assistance


Region CertificationCertified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[17] Gold 35,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[18] Gold 10,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[19] Gold 20,000^
Germany (BVMI)[20] Gold 100,000^
Italy (FIMI)[21] 2× Platinum 200,000*
Sweden (GLF)[22] Gold 30,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[23] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Gold 100,000^
Europe (IFPI)[25] Platinum 1,000,000*

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.



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