Fables of Reconstruction finds R.E.M.‘s star rising fast. With major label world domination still comfortably off in the future, the band was still experimenting; their jangly frenetic sound was deepening by fathoms, and Michael Stipe’s formless rants were solidifying (his diction was improving, too, which only served to clarify his prodigious poetic gift). The album featured some of the group’s most solid pop songcraft to date, as well as some pretty heady meandering (“Feeling Gravity’s Pull”).
Fables of Reconstruction produced some important hits for the group at this crucial juncture of its career. Radio staples like “Driver 8” kept them popular with the increasingly important college crowd (heretofore their bread and butter), while the crisp, jumpy and irresistibly catchy “Can’t Get There From Here” brought them to a new level on the now-essential music video playlists. Diehard fans, however, were drawn to some quintessential R.E.M. moments–the overlapping vocals of “Maps And Legends” and the wistful, soaring “Wendel Gee,” the album’s real gem, a disarming, dreamy, instant classic.
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