REM are currently leading an American rock stars' movement dedicated to getting George Bush out of the White House. It comes as something of a surprise, then, to find that their new album contains practically no political content whatsoever. Instead, Around The Sun is probably their most low-key release to date, downbeat, subdued and occasionally even a bit dull. The elegiac single 'Leaving New York' is superb but there's also a horrendously misguided rap from guest star Q-Tip that should simply have no place on an REM record. Stick with it, however, and you'll find there's a quiet elegance about these semi-acoustic, highly personal songs that proves more engaging with every listen. And if Michael Stipe's lyrics are as vague as ever, it's still hard not to be drawn in by the man's oddly soothing vocals. Not the best album they've ever made, probably not even in the top five. But worth investigation all the same.