Twenty-five years later, the album that invented "alternative rock" still sounds great: anthemic on a bedroom scale, danceable but not robotic, experimental without being oblique. And Michael Stipe's nasal muezzin-croon pulses with brooding emotion even when the lyrics are unintelligible. The bonus disc captures a 1983 Toronto club gig that strips Murmur's sound bare. It's sloppy but thrilling, with outbursts of Stipe's unhinged vibrato and a perfect cover of "There She Goes Again," by the Velvet Underground — patron saints of a sound that R.E.M. developed into something bigger and longer-lived than anyone would've guessed.
star ratingRandom Access Memories
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