Picks and Pans Review: Murmur
R.E.M., the highly touted, up-and-coming rock quartet from Athens, Ga., is the kind of band you either love or hate. If you hate them, it will be because everything they play reminds you of the Byrds, Moby Grape and countless other folk-rock groups of the '60s. If you love them, it may be because R.E.M. generates a rhythmic drive the folk-rockers never had, and they sing more interesting lyrics. Of course, some will argue that the lyrics don't matter since lead singer Michael Stipe is so marble-mouthed you can't make out the words anyway. And his voice is so wan and monochromatic, he doesn't make you want to figure them out. If you love the group, though, you'd be quick to point out its overall tightness and skill, and how much its self-assurance has increased since last year's Chronic Town EP.