Murmur is a strange album with a fitting title. First, it includes Radio Free Europe and Sitting Still which had been released two years prior as singles on the Hib-tone label. The band and IRS got out of the publishing rights deal to the songs and then the songs were re-recorded (smartly). The band went back to Mitch Easter and achieved all kinds of great sounds by experimenting. Songwriting and sound-wise the band stays much the same for this album and the next, perhaps because of Easter's influence.
Despite the slurred and accented lyrics there is really nothing new in Stipe's delivery, oblique lines that fit the spirit of the song structurally, if not literally. If you appreciate language this is a great album, there is some very good alliteration and rhyme, but what frustrates so many is what do the songs mean? Do not bother analyzing any of these songs, you will go mad because they're not meant to be analyzed. It's good old fashioned jangly rock with enigmatic lyrics. As I've said before, I am not going to analyze the songs because I take them at face value. Someone I know said that they didn't care what was being said primarily because it was unintelligible to her, she simply liked the songs. This is a great collection of songs and it stands the test of time.
A good example of Stipe's growth comes with the re-recorded RFE. In it's first incarnation, there are at least two lines that are completely unintelligible (more so than usual) on purpose. It's this purposeful garbling that weakens the track. The thing is, with Stipe's already unorthodox delivery and oblique lyrics there is no need to intentionally yodel through lyrics. By the time Murmur comes around the band has realized this, the lines have been replaced or clarified and are still riddles.
This is an album that has always been dear to me. I used to listen to it while walking to school, yes in the snow, yes uphill (but only one way), yes in All-Star's. There's something inspirational about starting your day with Pilgrimage, maybe everyone should. That said, as I'm typing this I have pretty much wrapped up all the way to Talk About The Passion. Are there surprises? Yes. Is it going to be different than any other info about this album you can get online? Yes! Honestly, being completely through with the first three songs it has been an eye opener. I briefly looked at some of the other tab and lyric sites and they are so bad and misleading it's maddening. So I hope you enjoy the next few weeks as much as I will ... I hope it doesn't stretch much longer than that. I sense a Moral Kiosk speed bump and it will take a couple of days to set up the piano for Perfect Circle, and yes I do plan on posting the piano line, and what kind of harmonic jumble is 9-9? RFE should be up by tomorrow ...