The murmuring continued with this, R.E.M.’s second album, recorded in only two weeks, and yet critical acclaim and a growing fanbase had not made the music any less elusive. From the cover depiction of a winding river/snake, the jangly music within was similarly ambiguous, drenched in alternately murky, then dazzlingly clear, images. The water theme predominates throughout side one’s five-song suite, with talk of harbours, oceans and water towers, crowned by the sublime lament of ‘So. Central Rain’. Later, the melancholic eulogy of ‘Camera’ sits comfortably beside the cod-country of ‘(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville’ and the brisk but disillusioned tour around ‘Little America’. An astonishingly assured and uncommercial half-sibling to Murmur: File under water.
Tracks: Harborcoat; 7 Chinese Brothers; So. Central Rain; Pretty Persuasion; Time After Time (Annelise); Second Guessing; Letter Never Sent; Camera; (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville; Little America....