February 17, 2008
In “Suspicion,” the sound is the setting: The gentle chimes and subdued beats evoke the image of an immaculate, artfully decorated high-end hotel lounge. The textures of the piece are understated but incredibly suggestive — you can hear the light shifting in the room, the sparkle on the edge of the glasses, the colors and the curves of the furniture’s retro-modern design. We’re right there with Michael Stipe’s protagonist, but he’s distant and aloof, doing everything he can to keep himself from thinking about his slowly disintegrating love affair. He can numb himself a bit, but he can’t shake his doubts, or his infatuation. The strings carry much of the song’s quiet melancholy, but Stipe’s understated performance is what kills. His expression of love is sincere, but he can’t overcome his paranoia, or repair the growing rift between himself and his lover. In the end, all he can do is listen to the music, and retreat into the world of dreams.