The typewriter in "McCarthy," the industrial thrust of "Worksong," the telegraphic "Strange," the cryptic fable "Heron," and the (weakened only by overplay on radio--not REM's fault!) "ITEOFTWAWKI (AIFF)": what a line-up! "Occupation" is a bit too much after "Mc" and "Worksong" when it comes to stabs at topicality in Reagan times, but it still makes a metaphor fresh enough, I guess, compared to the dreck that passed for much of pop music then and even more now. Old fogy, hmm?
Which makes the slip-off on side two puzzling, as if they had not learned to stop repeating the muddle of "Fables" and the so-so songs on much of "Pageant, like "Swan Swan H." It's as if they willfully sabotaged what they'd set in motion. "A pistol hot cup of" obscure Southern regionalisms, anyone? The decline on Side Two does derail this record somewhat, but the rush of the first songs and the beauty of "King of Birds" still manage to add up to one of REM's best.
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