R.E.M.
Murmur


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
August 20th, 2007 | 57 replies | 21,028 views


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist


Over the past year I've really learnt to not only appreciate alternative music, but accept it as one of my favourite genres of music. Granted, the majority of the bands and albums are of the 90's variety, and it is likely that I've been exposed to said bands before I actively sought out the genre. That said, despite my affinity to the more polished, digestible acts I indirectly grew up with, I still maintain a slight fascination with some of the genre's earlier groups. One of the first of such bands I decided to check out was R.E.M. One of the first alternative acts to gain popularity in the college rock scene of the 80's, the band has released a series of rather successful albums which have managed to get the American band hailed as one of the pioneers of the genre, despite their varying levels of quality. Leading the way as one of the finer studio albums in their discography is Murmur, R.E.M.'s highly praised debut album.

It isn't quite difficult to see why Murmur is so well liked. The forty-four minute album is chock full of jangling guitars, infectious melodies, and simple, yet effective song writing. Another element, perhaps just as important as the jangling guitars, is the vocals of Michael Stipe. Technically speaking, Stipe isn't among the strongest singers around, but his almost murmured vocal efforts compliment the other musicians rather well. Similarly to the guitars, the drumming and bass work are both rather simple as they serve to add both rhythm and extra depth to the music. The result, of course, is a quite interesting. R.E.M. maintains a tight performance throughout each of the tracks, and the band manages to connect each moment together superbly. The album varies between fast paced, catchy tracks such as Talk About the Passion and Radio Free Europe as well as slower, more emotional offerings such as Perfect Circle without disrupting the flow of the album.

Murmur's greatest strengths, however, lie in the emotions it conjures up. Despite the slight musical differences between the album's 12 tracks, they all share a very laidback atmosphere. Even in the catchier moments, R.E.M.'s jangle pop sensibilities provide with quite the relaxing listen. For lack of better words, Murmur is a fun album to just sit back and chill out to. The lower ranged vocal coos of Michael Stipe fit such attitudes, as he sounds almost carefree in his delivery. His singing varies very little throughout the record, yet surprisingly this is more beneficial to Murmur than it would be otherwise. Stipe's singing, along with the contributions from the other three band members, has a very stripped down, almost lazy feel to it. Such song writing tendencies help R.E.M. convey the rather listenable, laidback attitudes of the album exceedingly well.

Despite a few weaker releases later in their career, such as the chart topping Out of Time, R.E.M. was at one time one of the better bands in the early alternative scene. Their combination of relaxing jangle pop and stripped down college rock produces quite the interesting sound. The band's debut album contains a series of similar sounding, yet musically differing songs, most of which are appealing from a technical standpoint and an entertaining standpoint. The Radio Free Europes and Talk About the Passions of the album show off the poppier side of early R.E.M., while the likes of 9-9 and Laughing show off the more musically interesting aspect of the band's music. But my favourite aspect of Murmur by far is the uplifting, laidback feelings which it expresses. This, coupled with the virtual lack of filler tracks makes R.E.M.'s first full length album quite the fun listen, and definitely worth looking into.

Recommended Tracks:
Talk About the Passion
Moral Kiosk
Radio Free Europe
Perfect Circle



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user ratings (478)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Justin Swope (4.5)
R.E.M. make a name for themselves with an outstanding debut album that is both compelling and vigoro...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
August 21st 2007



3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Meh, short but I wanted to get it out.

south_of_heaven 11
August 21st 2007



5433 Comments


Hrmmm not a big R.E.M. fan, but an enjoyable read.

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 21st 2007



3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, and lol they don't really seem like they'd be your kind of band. What have you heard from them though?

Iai
Emeritus
August 21st 2007



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not too shabby.

I'd give this a 3, but specify that it's a high 3. "Radio Free Europe" and "Perfect Circle" are the obvious highlights for me.

Brain Dead
August 21st 2007



1150 Comments


come back to metal mike

blackmilk
August 21st 2007



584 Comments


Mike's non-metal reviews are about as convincing as a poodle in a shark costume.

dragonaut
September 18th 2009



62 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Radio Free Europe is such a tune, great breezy listen.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2010



14983 Comments


radio free europe owns

Jarvig
January 31st 2011



168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Should be licking this album more than I do because its easy to hear its a great album.

Most of the songs a good. But for some reason I only really love Perfect Circle and Talking about the Passion.

omnipanzer
January 31st 2011



21418 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Never been a big fan of their first few albums.

Digging: Grant Lee Buffalo - Fuzzy

porch
January 31st 2011



8440 Comments


aka their best albums

classic shit right here

Nagrarok
January 31st 2011



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Their best 80's albums are this, Reckoning and Document.

omnipanzer
January 31st 2011



21418 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Buddy of mine is an R.E.M. fanatic. Drives him nuts when I remind him I'm not a fan of the first four albums. then we just break out the other ten albums we agree on get shit faced and listen to all the sad songs.

qwe3
January 31st 2011



21353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5


Never been a big fan of their first few albums.


lol

qwe3
January 31st 2011



21353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

radio free europe is one of the best songs ever

Nagrarok
January 31st 2011



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Murmur through Document is easily their best period though I will stand by Automatic as their best album.

TheVoiceAndTheSnake
September 17th 2011



3663 Comments


Pilgrimage is the shit

ChalisInAce
April 12th 2012



1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Transparent rhythmical melodies and Stipe's amazing vocal make the listener not to give a damn about meaningless lyrics in most of the songs.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 9th 2012



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Had this album for about 5 years. Finally starting to click properly.

Chortles
September 21st 2012



17886 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules

Digging: Clan of Xymox - Medusa



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