R.E.M.'s early recordings purposefully bury Michael Stipe's vocals, allowing them to dominate the audio mix no more than Peter Buck's jangly guitar figures or Mike Mills's bass. Lifes Rich Pageant represents a subtle shift in the program, with clearly audible lyrics (though they remain obscure in meaning) on most tracks. The band still has a bit of fun with its audience, listing the songs out of order on the album sleeve and leaving a couple of them ("Underneath the Bunker," "Superman") off entirely. As good as it is to hear Stipe enunciate while he sings, the music is equally revelatory and forward-looking on the radio-friendly "Fall on Me"; harder-rocking songs like "Begin the Begin," "These Days," and "Superman" (the latter tune sung by Mills); and the haunting, folkish "Swan Swan H."