R.E.M. has been around since 1981, that’s when they released there debut album Murmur. There next album is Reckoning which is there sophomore album and I would like to say that they avoid the sophomore slump. R.E.M. has released a total of 13 albums and out of all of them this is my favorite R.E.M. album. I’m a big fan of this band and this is my favorite album, just ahead of New Adventures In Hi-Fi. The thing that makes this album a cut above all other R.E.M. albums is that it is catchy, accessible, no weak tracks, and great lyrics. Every other R.E.M. album I own has at least one weak track, but Reckoning has no weak tracks. Reckoning consists of catchy jangle pop tunes, catchy melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and the best part is that none of these songs sound the same. If you want an easy way to get into R.E.M. Reckoning is defiantly the place to start.
This album is one of those albums that never gets tiring. While these songs are simple and catchy they still avoid coming off as boring and cheesy. There are no real popular radio hits and this album, but that doesn’t matter because all of these songs stand well on there own. “Harborcoat”is one of the catchy most accessible songs that R.E.M. has ever produced. It’s jangle pop, laid back feel is makes this song fun to sing along to. “Don’t Go Back To Rockville” is an alt/folk/country rock song that is completely different from the first track. “Little America” is a very well done raw rock song that ends the album, I like this because R.E.M. usually ends there album with soft folk tunes. “Camera” is the longest and most depressing song off the album. It is slow melancholy and gives you a break from the regular jangle pop tunes. My favorite song “Second Guessing” is a catchy rocker that actually has good pump up value and once you get the song stuck in your head you can’t get it out. This is an alt/rock album that has amazing guitar riffs, melodies, lyrics, and replay value. R.E.M. mixes a this album up by putting in some alt/country songs that don’t keep things from being monotonous. The slower tracks are not filler, they give this album depth and are very well done. The drumming and guitar playing stands out, the guitar plays catchy riffs and contributes to the melody while the drums do the same. Reckoning is defiantly a good album if you want catchy rock tunes, with a few slower folk songs. The melodies are incredible and R.E.M. keeps things accessible. The thing that makes Reckoning stand out is it’s ability to get three and four songs stuck in your head at a time. Even the slower tracks have catchy hooks that keep you coming back for more. While other R.E.M. albums made me yawn, Reckoning intrigues me because of how they can create catchy tracks and still have enough depth to make me want to listen to this album more.
I guess you could call this a pop album. In my opinion this is an alt/rock album for sure, but because some of these songs have a jangle pop feel people refer to this as a pop album. Reckoning features beautiful backing vocals, amazing melodies, and chiming guitars. Stripe’s lyrics are at there best “When the bull’s on his hooves, when you gather friends by the tower
If you try to refuse, will they judge your worth by the hour"” Stripe has the ability to combine some darker lyrics in with catchy rock songs. All of these songs have a ton of emotion, especially “Time After Time (Annelise)” and “Don’t Go Back To Rockville.” This album isn’t depressing at all and it’s not a dark album either, the lyrics can be dark and sometimes depressing but the music is not. Stripe also avoids mumbling as much as he did on Murmur. You can usually hear his vocals clearly and it only took me a few times to get into his vocals. Reckoning is a very easy album to get into. The songs are catchy, the vocals are crisp and clear and the music isn’t that complex. If you’re looking for some deep folk tunes try Automatic For The People. Reckoning is quite upbeat and doesn’t get dark and depressing unlike other R.E.M. albums.
There isn’t a wide variety of instruments used. A guitar, and drums dominate most of this album. While these two instruments don’t sound like they would make the album fun they actually do. The guitar is a huge standout because it appears in virtually every song and it has a huge roll. The guitar riffs are brilliant and dominate the sound of “Seven Chinese Brothers” and “Harborcoat.” Even on the slower tunes the guitar is providing a raw, rough sound that is great when mixing with Stripes stale vocal delivery. The drums are not really a standout but they give the album a rougher edge. There are no pounding drum beats but the drums take a huge roll in the music. This music isn’t complex, hard rocking or soft. Reckoning is an album that consists of catchy alt/rock and jangle pop tunes, there isn’t anything dark or hard rocking about it. While some people may be turned off by this I think it’s great. Reckoning is really accessible and it just never gets old. While some of these songs are really poppy and catchy it is tied together by the deeper, slow paced tracks.
There isn’t a lot more I can say about this album. Catchy guitar riffs, deep lyrics, and amazing melodies. There is nothing complex about Reckoning, it is a simple alt/rock album. While I usually enjoy more complex, electronic, experimental albums Reckoning is one of my favorite alt/rock/pop albums of all time. Even though I say pop songs, these songs aren’t overly poppy by any means. You could say that Green Day is a pop band, that being said R.E.M. is a more alt/rock band IMO because they sound nothing like what is considered “pop” music. The real pleasure that this album brings is replay value. Catchy songs and replay value usually don’t go together very well, but Reckoning succeeds when it comes to that. The few darker songs that this album features keeps things from getting overly repetitive and gives Reckoning some depth. If you enjoy alt/rock, or jangle pop music this album is nothing less than perfect. Even if you aren’t a jangle pop fan this album is still fantastic. I don’t usually like music like this but Reckoning is a huge acception. R.E.M. was one of the greatest underground rock bands in the 80's and Reckoning is what makes that statement true. Reckoning is in my top five favorite alt/rock/pop albums of all time. While Reckoning may not be as popular as other R.E.M. albums it is just as good, if not better.
Overall Rating - 5/5
Album Art : http://athensmusic.net/images/images/coverart/rem_reckoning.jpg
Slower folk influenced tracks are brilliant
.....If you don’t like jangle-pop or alt/rock music than don’t get this
Recommended Tracks :
“Seven Chinese Brothers”
“Don’t Go Back To Rockville”