Sound — 10
Leaving behind the garagey jangle pop of their first recordings, R.E.M. developed a strangely subdued variation of their trademark sound for their full-length debut album, Murmur. Heightening the enigmatic tendencies of Chronic Town by de-emphasizing the backbeat and accentuating the ambience of the ringing guitar, R.E.M. created a distinctive sound for the album one that sounds eerily timeless. Even though it is firmly in the tradition of American folk-rock, post-punk, and garage rock, Murmur sounds as if it appeared out of nowhere, without any ties to the past, present, or future. Part of the distinctiveness lies in the atmospheric production, which exudes a detached sense of mystery, but it also comes from the remarkably accomplished songwriting. The songs on Murmur sound as if they've existed forever, yet they subvert folk and pop conventions by taking unpredictable twists and turns into melodic, evocative territory, whether it's the measured riffs of "Pilgrimage," the melancholic "Talk About the Passion," or the winding guitars and pianos of "Perfect Circle." R.E.M. may have made albums as good as Murmur in the years following its release, but they never again made anything that sounded quite like it.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are sometime a little hard to understand as singer Micheal Stipe slurs his lines, and even when you understand the lyrics you still don't understand what point Stipe is trying to make with his lyrics it doesn't bring down the songs in any way shape or form it's just it would be nice to understand what point (if any) the band are trying to make. Stipe's nasal snarl, Mike Mills rumbling bass and Bill Berry's often sharp slashing drums cast a cloudy post-punk aura that is lightened by Peter Buck folk-flavored guitar playing.
Overall Impression — 10
This is no doubt one of the best alternative rock albums of the 80's and one R.E.M.'s best. The most standout songs on the album are "Pilgrimage" "Radio Free Europe" "Talk About The Passion" and the Gang Of Four influenced "9-9". If it was stolen/lost I would buy a new copy without even thinking and it would be worth it just to have a classic 80's alternative rock album as Murmur.