Chronic Town established R.E.M.'s signature sound immediately, expanding the jangling riffs of their debut single, "Radio Free Europe," into a full-fledged modus operandi. Recorded at Mitch Easter's Drive-In Studios, the EP has an endearingly ragged sound -- it's a garage band playing jangling pop songs, and while the music is melodic and memorable, it has an underground mentality that keeps it from sounding conventional. Not only does the lo-fi production keep the music underground, but so do Peter Buck's ringing arpeggios, Michael Stipe's incomprehensible mumbled vocals, and the band's amateurish enthusiasm. They might not be accomplished players, but already their songwriting is distinctive, with "Gardening at Night," "Wolves, Lower," and "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)" ranking as early classics.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine