Murmur is strange. Its lyrics are cryptic. The music didn’t jump out at me on first listen. The songs didn’t stick out either, with the exception of “Perfect Circle.” To be honest, R.E.M. and Murmur seemed as completely unassuming and unaffectiong as the desk lamp next to me.
After the second spin, I thought, “is this it?” So, Murmur went back in drawer and I went on with my life.
A few months later I was on Christmas break. I decided I was going to spend extra time going through R.E.M.’s discograhy – six times, in fact, for each album (I only got up to Green). I figured if I did one album a day, then I could spend about two weeks knowing R.E.M. well. If they still didn’t speak to me, then that would be that.
Fortunately, Murmur spoke to me, though it took patience. Listening to it six times in one day wasn’t as dreadful as I thought it would be. In fact, it was enjoyable.
I wouldn’t call Murmur R.E.M.’s best – that title goes to Reckoning or Fables of the Reconstruction. But Murmur has mystique the other two lack, perfect for a cloudy day or contemplative mood. As I listened to Murmur more, I came to appreciate R.E.M.’s unconventional riffs, chord progressions, and melodies, aspects I missed on the first go-round.
Today, R.E.M. remains unassuming, and to an extent, unaffecting. But mysteriously, its songs have come to grow on me the more I listened. A four star album.