August 14, 2007
The difference between Murmur and Reckoning is like night and day — literally. Whereas Murmur‘s stark contrasts, snappy beats, and murky textures evoke the romance of twilight, it’s almost impossible to hear the songs on Reckoning without imaging blue skies and broad daylight. In the least self-conscious way possible, Reckoning is a summer album, a piece of music ideally suited to being heard on a car stereo on the way to something fun. The album gets a bit heavy in places, but a great deal of its appeal comes from the sense that the band is more focused on evoking a pleasurable sensation than belaboring a point. When it comes down to it, “Second Guessing” is mostly just harmony and velocity, with a lyric that isn’t concerned with much more than social status in a local scene. It’s about as thematically lightweight as it gets for R.E.M., but that lightness allows it to whoosh on by in a carefree rush on to the next exciting whatever.