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Respectable, but not a classic
on August 26, 1999
A more accessible, brighter version of "Murmur," but it lacks the former's hesitation, snarl and piety. The little twists in between the songs are great, "Pretty Persuasion" and "Little America" are fun, but anyone who has not heard "Rockville" in its earlier, punkish rendition live, should reserve judgement on the album version. Both work well, and it's an indication of the versatility of this album's range. The songs do not stick with me as much, although easily recalled (unlike some on, say, NAIHF or UP--although I like those albums as a whole even more than this one!)
Kind of like Murmur-lite, then. Didn't Pavement sing on the "No Alternative" compilation a homage to REM called "The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" with its admission "Time after Time is my least favorite song"? I agree. [Used to hate "Camera" too, but with age comes wisdom, and it is a stately consideration of loss.] But why subtitle "TAT" Annaliese? Well, play that ferociously bitter PiL song off "First Issue"--a German lass who was possessed is all I can remember, so REM's mention's confused it for me. Stipe vs. Rotten. Hmm.
The simplicity of this album belies a rather rushed, get-another-hit to IRS since we're touring again necessity which I assume the band worked under in their hungry years. It's essential to purchase for any fan, but lacks the sonic density of "Murmur" and the weird shadows of "Fables."