Monday, April 26, 2010
Murmur, coming in on nearly THIRTY years after it was first released, still remains the defining (and first truly great) college radio record. The record is nothing truly original or earth-shattering, and neither was the band...but their legacy lives on for what the music...which first appeared on this record (1982's Chronic Town EP did not have nearly the same impact).
DIY American punk was making a huge impact on college radio stations across the country at this point...and even the ones that only had an impact in hindsight...by majority subscribed to the loud and fast punk rock. Minutemen, Husker Du, and Black Flag had to earn their keep just as REM did, but REM focused on melody and guitar interplay, ripping off then-obscure groups like The Soft Boys and Big Star.
The songs that make up Murmur are, by and large, beautiful. They are at other times, though, aggressive and dark. REM did a superb job of mixing a variety of feels on this record and still make it one complete unit. "Radio Free Europe" and "Catapult" soar with beautiful harmonizing..."Sitting Still" is a slacker anthem, and "Talk About The Passion" and "Perfect Circle" are exceptionally beautiful.
I will say, however, that the album isn't perfect...and I find it receives more lauding than it deserves (as many classic indie rock records do.) I still can't shake the feeling that the last third of the record PALES in comparison to the first eight songs, and re-treads most of what has already been done on the album at that point. "West of the Fields" is dark but not that great..."We Walk" is too sweet for my liking and just doesn't hold up well.
Murmur is a good album with some EXCEPTIONAL songs...which I guess kinda sums up my feelings about REM as a whole.