More from R.E.M.
R.E.M.'s third full-length recording, Fables of the Reconstruction
delivers the purest distillation of the band's early sound. With the exception of the horn-laden, radio-friendly "Can't Get There from Here," the songs form a connected soundscape. Nearly transparent production highlights the glittering guitar arpeggios, active bass, and the disciplined, patterned drum lines, with organ and spare string arrangements adding texture to several pieces. And then there are the vocals: dense harmonies of voices calling out to each other, a rich humming and howling around Michael Stipe's central mumble. A careful listener can discern most of the lyrics, though what exactly they signify remains unclear. The album is best contemplated in its entirety, and the songs reward careful, repeated listening. This is a seminal alternative album, its material evocative, its ultimate meanings elusive. If your CD collection has room for only a few R.E.M. albums, Fables
should be one of them. --Albert Massa