Review 9: Murmurations


Nominated by Martin Carroll

Another debut album, that’s the third this month. I don’t think I need to worry about being careful with R.E.M’s feelings though – this was where 85 million album sales began.

R.E.M take me back a bit further than Hunky Dory. My friend this time, at 6th form college, was considerably more fierce. She always wore the same jumper, albeit an expensive, designer jumper, and R.E.M were on her revisionist ‘must listen’ list of bands, along with Husker Du and Sonic Youth. She was so disappointed when the Georgia band hit the mainstream with Green.

Happily for this review, I’ve no memories of enforced appreciation of Murmur, and come to it fresh. And happily for me, I loved it.

It’s a great listen, with a range of interesting and mature songs. I need to accept that I can’t understand what Michael Stipe is singing. There’s the odd word that leaps out clearly – often the track’s title – Radio Free Europe… Catapult… ‘Standing too soon, shoulders high in the room’ … which I was really pleased I worked out (and what an awkward image that creates).

If you read the lyrics, they make wonderful clever sense, but I wonder how many times I’d need to listen to hear them.

But that really doesn’t matter – its a great soundscape, you get the feeling of the song and can just sing along, maybe with the wrong words. Has every R.E.M fan got a different version of each song? ‘But I thought it said…?’ It could come to blows.

But, debut or not, there’s no damning with faint praise for Murmur. An auspicious beginning for a great band.

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