R.E.M.
Chronic Town


4.0
excellent

Review

by Robbie Byrne USER (19 Reviews)
February 24th, 2013 | 16 replies


Release Date: 1982 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "It was round about midnight. Hipster town/ Imagine going for a walk"

Weighing in at just over twenty minutes, R.E.M.’s bleakly titled debut EP Chronic Town accomplishes to be both concise and compelling. Despite the albums brevity, Chronic Town was eight months in the making; probably due to the bands evolving in studio experimentation and music production naivety. The EP created R.E.M.’s early trademark mumbling vocals, arpeggio guitars, tumbling bass-lines and choir boy like backing vocals.

The first sounds of Chronic Town arrive with the opening track; Wolves, Lower perfectly encapsulates everything we know about early R.E.M. In a nutshell it is perfect guitar pop rock. However, delving deeper through the mumbling vocals and arpeggio guitars, a real depth of production shines through, providing the album with a more art-rock atmosphere, something bolstered by the undecipherable nature of Stipe’s lyrics, “Wilder, lower wolves/ Here's a house to put/Wolves out the door”.

The sophomore track, and then lead single Gardening at Night continues the winning combination wafer-thin guitar work and melodic bass lines. Gardening at Night offers more panache and substance, creating an atmosphere that manages to be both uplifting and somewhat claustrophobic, it is an intoxicating combination of which would never be replicated again by R.E.M (with the exception of some tracks from their debut album Murmur). Carnival of Sorts, opens, well, you guessed it with an eerie carnival like atmosphere, which bellies the rest of the track as it briskly builds up into an hustling chorus made more compelling by the introduction of Mike Mills legendary backing vocals, their smoothness and clarity polarising Stipe’s gruff vocal style.

The concluding duo of tracks 1,000,000 and Stumble continue where Carnival of Sorts left off by creating well-judged jangle art-rock. While they don’t possess the substance that the previous tracks inherited, 1,000,000 runs along with an immediacy, making it instantly enjoyable, while Stumble feeds off its bouncing bass-line before breaking down into a bizarre tribal interlude.

While the sounds created for Chronic Town set the template for future eighties REM, it also helped to create the template for much of the much ‘genrefied’ indie music heard today. A heady mix of mumbling vocals, tumbling bass lines, tight guitar work (I feel I’m leaving Bill Berry out here….) and ingenious song writing created an intoxicatingly enjoyable debut EP from a band who had outstanding talent right from their genesis.



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user ratings (97)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
731
February 24th 2013


662 Comments


just as good as murmur

RHCP1999
February 24th 2013


53 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, I love both of them equally, but I feel Murmur has a little more substance to it.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
February 24th 2013


4507 Comments


so good.

DirtBagDan
February 24th 2013


582 Comments


fantastic album

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
February 24th 2013


4507 Comments


so good. [2]

StallionMang
July 25th 2013


5868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Most of this is actually better than a lot of the songs on Murmur.

Digging: Manic Street Preachers - The Holy Bible

jtswope
July 25th 2013


2373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I disagree but this is still awesome.

RHCP1999
July 26th 2013


53 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@StallionMang I actually agree with you on that, Murmur is great, but it would have been far more awesome with the addition of all the tracks from Chronic Town.

CaliginousColors
October 22nd 2013


159 Comments


Fantastic EP, great alongside Murmur.

Digging: Panda Bear - Mr Noah

KILL
October 22nd 2013


71981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

weeeeee'll stumble through the yard

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

KILL
August 16th 2014


71981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

love this so much

BMDrummer
August 16th 2014


8877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

got this signed by Mike Mills, great guy

KILL
August 16th 2014


71981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn i dont have any signed shit

spose u gota leave the basement for that tho

Supercoolguy64
August 16th 2014


2009 Comments


yeah, real pain in the arse

Digging: Archers of Loaf - Icky Mettle

BMDrummer
August 16th 2014


8877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

saw him on RSD, good day

jagride
August 16th 2014


2357 Comments


love this so much


yea, usually wins over the people surprised that i like REM

apparently gardening at night is about taking a piss



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