The murmuring continued with this, R.E.M.'s second album, recorded in only two weeks, and yet critical acclaim and a growing fanbase had not made the music any less elusive. From the cover depiction of a winding river/snake, the jangly music within was similarly ambiguous, drenched in alternately murky, then dazzlingly clear, images. The water theme predominates throughout side one's five-song suite, with talk of harbours, oceans and water towers, crowned by the sublime lament of "So. Central Rain." Later, the melancholic eulogy of "Camera" sits comfortably beside the cod-country of "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" and the brisk but disillusioned tour around "Little America." An astonishingly assured and uncommercial half-sibling to MURMUR: file under water.
Rolling Stone (p.77) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he powerful RECKONING established the band as bona fide leaders of the new American indie-rock underground."
Spin (p.91) - "[T]he songs betrayed a folk-country influence -- the Byrds, in particular -- resulting in an album refreshingly out of fashion for 1984."
Spin (12/03, p.122) - "...RECKONING gets over on straight-up songcraft..."
CMJ (1/6/03, p.14) - Included in CMJ's list of "Top 25 College Radio Albums of All Time"
CMJ (1/5/04, p.14) - Ranked #1 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1984".
Q (Magazine) (p.118) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he jangle and crunch of Buck's Rickenbacker brooked no confusion; here were the seeds of every baroque experiment with mandolins and balalaikas that lay ahead..."
Blender (Magazine) (p.106) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "RECKONING aims for the gut with roundhouse drumming, sunburst guitars, Podunk country ballads...and just enough poetic vagueness..."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[I]t is host to a kind of determined minimalism, each song building via subtle variations in performance and instrumentation."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.90) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "RECKONING remains a highpoint in REM's first chapter of existence. 'Central Rain' sounds like a lost soul classic..."
Uncut (magazine) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "RECKONING, remarkably, deepened the band's mythology, projecting a kind of existential restlessness wrapped in webs of gorgeous guitar arpeggio and interweaving vocal textures."