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Review - Chronic Town

Publication Date: 
December 11, 1982

Nightmare Town, Richard Grabel, New Music Express12/11/1982           
A town is chronic because we are fated to revisit it time and time again. A chronic town might also be a carny town, jammed full of colour, with incomprehensible barkers and terrible secrets stowed away behind the tents.
This chronic music revisits us, reminds us of the wonderfully, excitingly familiar but of nothing in particular. There are of course precedents, influences if you like. Ringing and chiming '60s guitars are part of it. Voices and harmonies that are distinctly American, not by being any kind of nostalgic throwback but inherently, deeply, are a part of it; as is a modern English pop sensibility, an openness to the possibilities of what pop music can carry or suggest.
Chronic Town is five songs that spring to life full of immediacy and action and healthy impatience. Songs that won't be denied.
Mystery is a thing that is lacking in run of the mill pop product. Michael Stipe's voice comes close, gets right up next to you, but his mumblings seem to contain secrets. Intimacy and distance. The voice tells of knowledge but doesn't give too much away. The songs have mystery but are in no way fuzzy. No, they have a cinematic vividness, they paint pictures.

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