R.E.M. developed a strangely subdued variation of its trademark sound for its 1983 full-length debut album, Murmur, by de-emphasizing the backbeat and accentuating the ambience of the guitars. Even though it's firmly rooted in the tradition of American folk-rock, post-punk, and garage rock, Murmur sounds eerily timeless, as if it appeared out of nowhere. Part of the distinctiveness lies in the atmospheric production, which exudes a detached sense of mystery, but it also comes from the remarkably accomplished songwriting.
R.E.M. went on to produce a few albums that may have been on par with Murmur, but they never made anything that sounded quite like it. Reissued here on audiophile quality 180g vinyl with original packaging, it's never sounded better.