Saturday, July 11, 2009

There's a splinter in your eye and it reads "react"

There’s a cracking article about R.E.M.’s bewitching sophomore long player, Reckoning, in this month’s Uncut Magazine. I recall plenty of celebratory prose saluting the 25th anniversary of the band’s mighty debut, Murmur, last year (not least on these earnest pages) and, verily, a year on, the silver-jubilee-celebrating Reckoning seems to be getting the same retrospective, under-the-microscope treatment. It’s my favourite R.E.M. album. It’s a little less murky and mystical then Murmur and I appreciate the crisp sound and the cascade of brittle pop majesty that bombards the listener. A melancholic air pervades my favoured tracks. The haunting Letter Never Sent and Camera are tender and evocative mini-masterpieces of regret and lament while the introspective Time After Time (Annelise) and the plaintive So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry) convey similar sentiments; these are beautiful songs. More upbeat treats lurk elsewhere. Harborcoat is a rousing opener, full of swagger and lo-fi elegance, Seven Chinese Brothers is an arty yet melodic slice of idiosyncrasy while the powerful Pretty Persuasion remains an indie gem, full of melody and guitar-led bliss. I recommend Reckoning wi’ no little zest. I note that each of the next four years shall herald twenty-fifth birthdays for the group’s other early-period tours de force (Fables of the Reconstruction, Lifes Rich Pageant, Document and Green) and I look forward to reflecting sagely on each of these wondrous works.

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