#MoNM Day 3: REM’s Reckoning

REM is a fairly significant musical blind spot for me. I know they’re “important”, that they helped define a major part of the college rock sound of the ’80s, but aside from mid-period singles like “Losing my Religion” and the monster hits from Monster, my exposure is pretty limited. Before this morning, the only albums I’d heard in their entirety were Around the Sun (which, to my recollection, was fairly wretched in a bland sort of way) and Fables of the Reconstruction, a moody, expressively dark album that I enjoyed without ever really falling for.

Given that Fables is the immediate follow-up to Reckoning, I thought I had an idea of what I’d be getting with this one. Turns out, I was wrong. Reckoning is actually a surprisingly energetic, even upbeat album, almost more pop than rock and certainly farther removed from the “alternative” movement than I was expecting. It launches with a track that actually recalls some of the Smiths’ jauntier moments, and even includes a wry country-rocker – admittedly a bit of an ill fit on the disc, even if the song itself is strong.

It’s a very different album from Fables, but my initial reaction is the same – it’s likable, but doesn’t hit me at all in the gut. As much as I can appreciate the songs on a pop level, I can’t hear it with fresh enough ears to pick out what was so revolutionary about Peter Buck’s jangling guitars or Michael Stipe’s mumbled croon. Maybe growing up with alt- and indie-rock means I’ve already internalized most of what REM introduced. Whatever the reason, I don’t see the “blind spot” status changing any time soon.

One Response to “#MoNM Day 3: REM’s Reckoning”
  1. Sarah says:

    You make me feel less guilty for not worshiping Nirvana.

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