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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Automatic For The People

R.E.M.

1992

Buy At Rough Trade
Automatic For The People
Album Summary

Automatic for the People is the eighth studio album by American alternative rock band R.E.M., released by Warner Bros. Records on October 5, 1992 in the United Kingdom and Europe, and on the following day in the United States. R.E.M. began production on the album while their previous album, Out of Time (1991), was still ascending top albums charts and achieving global success. Aided by string arrangements from John Paul Jones, Automatic for the People features ruminations on mortality, loss, mourning and nostalgia. Upon release, it received widespread acclaim from critics, reached number two on the US Billboard 200, and yielded six singles. Rolling Stone reviewer Paul Evans concluded of the album, "This is the members of R.E.M. delving deeper than ever; grown sadder and wiser, the Athens subversives reveal a darker vision that shimmers with new, complex beauty." Automatic for the People has sold more than 18 million copies worldwide.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.81

Votes

13519

Genres

  • Rock

Reviews

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Wed Mar 17 2021
5

I unashamedly love this album. A lot of folks point to Document as R.E.M.'s best album but I would argue that it was simply the album that brought them into the mainstream spotlight. THIS is the best R.E.M. album. The songwriting, production, and performances are all on point. Sharp, emotional, layered and complex, it's just a damn good album from every angle. Even on the slow jams, there's an ENERGY that pulses behind the music that is just compelling. Back when I was doing critical listening as part of my degree, this was one of our reference albums—basically, an album that was SO well recorded and mixed that you could listen to it on super high-end audiophile equipment and pick it apart to understand what was going on.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
5

"Find The River" is a song I want to be played at my funeral. And that's probably because "Try Not To Breathe" would be considered in bad taste by some (they'd be wrong, by the way). Although my close friends would understand and appreciate if I requested "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight" instead. For my money, "Find The River" is the definitive album closer. Especially for THIS album, with themes like mortality, suicide, aging, and Andy Kaufman. This is one of those albums that shaped me and got me through a few turbulent moments. I know every song like I do scenes from a favorite movie I've seen multiple times. It's Stipe, Berry, Buck and Mills at the peak of their powers. "Drive" is something of a response to the David Essex classic "Rock On" with incredible string arrangements by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones of all people. "Sidewinder" is a similar riff on "The Lion Sleeps Tonight. One of the most known songs," Everybody Hurts" is REM's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and destined to be covered endlessly for generations to come. Stipe's moments of clarity and levity flow together seamlessly. The Mike Mills backup vocals standout even more than usual here, again underlying REM's secret weapon. This is one of those Desert Island albums. It's timeless. But it can still take me back to the Fall of 1992, the spring of 1998, or most of 2017. And it's far and away my favorite album of the 117 I've listened to so far on this list.

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Fri Sep 25 2020
5

One of the best albums, all-time. And best closing 3 songs ever. Sweetness Follows is underrated.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
3

Not my cup of tea completely but happy to drink it anyway

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Tue Apr 19 2022
5

more like automatic five the people

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Drive is such a great track on this record. The strings add a lot to the feel of melancholy and sadness. One of my favorite REM albums.

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Sun Apr 11 2021
5

Wow, did not expect this but this is a masterpiece.

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Tue Jan 19 2021
4

Classic roots rock. It sounds big, it really takes up space. And Michael Stipe has such an iconic voice. “I’m not scared, I’m out of here” is a great closing line for an album that spanned so far

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Wed Apr 28 2021
5

For an embarrassingly long time, I thought I didn't like R.E.M. because Losing My Religion sucks. I was right about that song, but I've seen the error of my ways when it comes to the band. This album was a huge part of that. There's something to like about nearly every track. It's just a bunch of thoughtful, well executed jams. Best track: Man on the Moon

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Tue Oct 06 2020
5

Best album by one of the all time best bands.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
5

The sound of my youth. Almost perfect album.

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Wed Apr 07 2021
5

quality + nostalgia = 5 stars

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Fri Apr 16 2021
5

I was already a giant R.E.M. fan when this came out... and this is clearly one of their best. A spectacular album.

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Tue Jun 22 2021
5

This album sounds huge. The strings and acoustic guitars are lush and warm, the electric guitars scream, the drums pop like they're in a cave and everything else (keys, organ/synths, horns) is produced incredibly. Coupled with the vocals, this album is a soundtrack to a revelation

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Thu Jul 15 2021
5

R.E.M.'s best, imho, and a formative album for me. My father had it and I hadn't listened to them before. Going thru his collection, I pulled it out while looking for something else (probably Pink Floyd or Van Halen or Depeche Mode (which, boy, that was a weird group for a conservative cop to listen to or Roger Water's solo stuff, you get the idea) and he told me I could have it. It was this album and, oddly enough, Chris Isaak's Heart Shaped World. I asked my dad why he didn't want it and he said it was "faggoty shit". Now, at this point, I was young and still only vaguely aware that my orientation might be different than my peers. Well I took it, only vaguely guessing as to what Faggoty Shit could refer to when he never made the same gestures at Elton John (who my mother loved). What I think he meant by that was 'sensitive'. Automatic For The People is a remarkably empathetic, deeply personal feeling album that doesn't get buried in itself and instead decides to thread those personal anxieties, loves and thoughts through a warm and lived in sonic space. Nostalgia, politics, mortality, romance and sexuality all mesh together in a sweet sort of late summer dusk-to-autumn cycle of Queer Americana. As time would go one, I'd deeply appreciate how much I see myself in this record. The popculture-to-political focus of Man on the Moon. The intimacy, excitement and rush of Night Swimming. The strokes to find yourself in bigger pictures with haunted melancholic undertones of Find The River and Sweetness Follows. The interpersonal spaces of impossible to ignore politics by the way of Ignoreland. It's a chronicle. It's tragic and beautiful. But sonically it's tight. A refinement of ideas explored in early R.E.M. records and represents a culmination of their sound before they'd experiment further. This is their best album. But that's what I love about R.E.M., their best is still equally good as other albums which could call their best (Document, Murmur, Reackoning, Monster, Hi-Fi, you could make a case for any of these).

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Incredible- correlation between the America we are living in currently, my dad loves this band and I think I finally do too

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Thu Feb 25 2021
5

Just perfect in almost every way.

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Thu May 20 2021
5

Pretty much exactly what I expected, which isn't a bad thing.

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Thu May 20 2021
5

One of the best of all time. Mix of styles, pacing, and just all round greatness.

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Fri Jan 29 2021
5

Forgot how amazing this was. Certified BANGER.

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Thu May 27 2021
5

A work of genius and after 30 years I still listen to it regularly. My favourite track has changed several times over the years. Starting with Nightswimming, then moving on to Everybody Hurts (once described by Peter Buck as an example of Michael Stipe "polishing a turd") but lately it's been the amazing and still prescient Ignoreland. And John Paul Jones arranged the strings. This is up there with Graceland and Led Zep II (of what we've heard so far) with a serious claim to be in the top 10 of best albums ever recorded.

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Sat Sep 25 2021
5

One of my favorite albums of all time. I somehow love it more each time I listen to it. Maybe not the most representative of R.E.M. as a whole, but goddamn, what a gorgeous emotional piece of work.

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Thu Feb 23 2023
5

I already know it, I already loved it. This was part of the soundtrack of my early 20s, that weird hectic messy growing-pains time where I was newly graduated from college and heady with possibility - and giddy with relief that the Cold War had ended and I was NOT going to blow up at any moment without warning; but that just paved the way for finally looking at all the OTHER ills of the world and wanting to do something about them. Of course I was doing so under the shadow of a whole horde of media looking at us and wondering "goodness what is Generation X going to do and what are they all about," and meanwhile the Boomers were hanging on to their own jobs and positions of power and not letting us actually do anything to explore what we COULD do or find what we WERE all about. But a lot of us tried where we could in small ways. Oh, and "Ignoreland" is still my favorite condemnation of the Reagan/Bush years. "TV tells a million lies, the paper's terrified to report anything that isn't handed on a presidential spoon, I'm just profoundly frustrated by all this, so fuck you, man...."

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Fri Sep 15 2023
2

That’s me in the corner, thats’s me in the spot-light…trying to figure out why I love one era of REM, but loathe another.

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Fri Feb 26 2021
5

The second repeat! Much more welcome than Kate Bush. Going from R.E.M.'s debut to their 8th album is a huge jump. The band is more confident, more powerul, and more in the groove. This album has a bunch of hits on it, and the non-hit tracks still slap. Very, very enjoyable. Hung out for a while listening to live cuts and demos. I'm not sure if this deserves a straight 5, but it's miles ahead of Murmer, which I gave a 4.

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Fri Jan 29 2021
5

Loved it, best album we've listened to

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Wed May 26 2021
5

R.E.M. is an incredible band and this might be my favorite album of theirs. I'm usually quite reluctant to apply labels like "favorite" or "best," or to rank an artist's or group's output, so I use "favorite" here in lower-case letters or parenthetically, mostly to indicate how I gravitate towards it. I don't want to diminish my affection for their other work. All that being said, there's a depth and texture to this album that makes it stand out for me in R.E.M.'s impressive catalog. It's odd to say this, but I actually believe this band is underrated, as are the four individual members as musicians and songwriters. I am particularly fond of Peter Buck (my view: because he didn't rip massive solos, even though he was more than capable of it, he is not talked about as much as other rock/pop/alt guitarists, but he's fantastic) and Mike Mills (quiet and cerebral, so not a limelight guy, he's an amazing bassist, pianist, singer, and writer). What I learned from the Wiki entry that's linked to this album is the John Paul Jones (yes, as in Led Zeppelin's JPJ) contributed string arrangements to four tracks on this album. That is super-cool (JPJ is another way, way underrated musician).

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Tue May 04 2021
5

Loved it, played it multiple tomes

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Sun Aug 01 2021
5

Easy 5. Even the non singles are ace. Monty got a raw deal...

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Fri Aug 06 2021
5

Why no 6 star option. Clearly one of the all time greatest albums.

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Thu Aug 19 2021
5

Doesn't get much better than that!

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Mon Sep 20 2021
5

Nightswimming, The River, Man On The Moon, EVERYBODY HURTS. What a list of tracks! R.E.M is just one of those artists that can get you feeling every type of emotion throughout their music, and it's a beautiful thing because so. Incredible vocals of the 80s/ 90s.

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Tue Sep 21 2021
5

Love this album! Poignant lyrics, endearing ennui, wistful storytelling.

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Fri Oct 08 2021
5

Probably the pinnacle of their production. R.E.M. don't get better than this record, for me.

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Fri Oct 22 2021
5

Probably REM's best album (and that's saying a lot, given the "competition"). Made even better through John Paul Jones' arrangements on some of the songs, which renders them pure magic.

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Sun Oct 31 2021
5

This is my favorite REM album. The lyrics, the acoustics, and Stipes' voice just speaks directly to my soul. It has a very special place in my heart.

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Mon Nov 01 2021
5

I’d never describe myself as an R.E.M fan but this album is undeniable. Classic track after classic track, I don’t really see how anyone could give this less than 5

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

What a great album! Up until now, I have only really listened to R.E.M when it appears in a party playlist. I think it's a much better listening experience in album form, i.e. not such a mood killer. This album is going on the replay list. 5/5

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Fri Nov 19 2021
5

The album that saw REM confirm their place as global megastars. An album packed full of melancholy and beauty.

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

Hi: Drive, Monty Got A Raw Deal, Ignoreland, Star Me Kitten Lo: NONE Thanks for eating my review, generator! Anyways, this is an important album, one of the best from '92 (a year that birthed ton of excellent music) and almost 30 years later still holds up. If you don't love this album, you're an idiot.

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Sat Dec 11 2021
5

Takes me back to playing roller coaster tycoon

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Mon Oct 09 2023
4

this is probably the album that convinced christina to go to school in athens. thanks REM!

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Sat Apr 08 2023
2

Fine music, but I don't really vibe with it. I think it's a little too mellowed out, and flat. It doesn't really do it for me.

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Mon Dec 04 2023
2

Overall, a fairly boring album. Nothing about the song composition anywhere in this album is notable. The saving grace for this album (and band) is Michael Stipe's voice which is unique and memorable. I had heard "Everybody Hurts" and "Man on the Moon" before. None of the songs were notable. "Ignoreland" is a predictable, dull, angsty uninformed rant against Republicans, which is just so classically predictable for musicians and out of touch celebrities. This album isn't difficult to listen to necessarily. It's not Queen Latifah levels of bad. It's just dull and predictable.

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Fri Jan 26 2024
2

This one starts off a little slow and stays that way for really the whole album. It's not bad, just not what I would expect I guess. I also think it sounds a little thin, guitars in particular, but I feel like thin sounding guitars are kind of an R.E.M. signature. That's one of the problems I've always had with R.E.M. - I always feel like they need to fill out the sound spectrum a little. I felt myself kind of drifting out of attention throughout this whole record. Does that make it background music? I hate to use the word 'boring' but it kind of was. I was excited when this record came up for the day but left a little disappointed. There are certainly songs I like on this record, Everyboy Hurts, Drive, Monty Got A Raw Deal, Man On The Moon. But I wouldn't play this whole album again. 2.5 stars

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Wed Mar 16 2022
1

I truly dislike everything about REM. Couldn’t finish.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
5

This is another example of a band that I already know about (actually, I like very much R.E.M. songs) but never listened to this whole album in a row. For this experiment of 1001 albums, this is just the third one but is for sure the best until now. It's really worth it!

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Tue Jan 19 2021
5

Quizás su mejor trabajo. Por lo menos, a mi, el que más me gusta

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

This album reminds me of my time as a teenager or even my time transitioning into a middle aged man. It is slow and thoughtful

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Mon Mar 29 2021
5

R.E.M. en estado puro. Paradigma del indie norteamericano, lleno de temazos. Uno de los mejores discos de los 90. Básico en cualquier colección.

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Tue Jun 01 2021
5

Обнаружил, что снёс дискографию R.E.M. с винта. И тут даже пожалел. Благо, на плеере осталась. При марафонном прослушивании как-то ухо альбом вовсе не выцепило в своё время. А ныне слушаю - всё по кайфу. Интересные аранжировки, подбор инструментов, композиционные решения, отличный звук, внятные мелодии, яркие вокальные партии. На голову выше дебютника. Тупа стали профессионалами, но не успели скатиться. Вчерась всё по кайфу было, думал опосля слухану, подумаю, и сёнь всё по кайфу. Значит - топ, надо брать.

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Tue Aug 03 2021
5

This album has lots of punch. The band understands the importance of a good riff. Even  the acoustic songs have good opening riffs.  Two great examples are  the acoustic riffs to start Drive and Monty Got A Raw Deal.  The vocal melodies make for memorable songs. An example is the catchy melody ("Call me when you wake her) on The Sidewinder . . . It's hard to read about this album for more than two minutes before a name dropper mentions John Paul Jones and his contribution to the songs in the form of orchestration. My only negative comment on the album is that it would be better without him. I like when the electric guitar comes in on Drive and don't understand how making the guitar compete with strings helps the song.  Star me Kitten reminds me of the way the set list is put together for a live gig. You want to play something that lulls the crowd to sleep before playing your magical song so it will sound even better.  It worked! Man on the Moon is a gem! The band's first album was good. These guys developed into a music making machine.  Regardless of the strings and a song or two of filler I still have a 5 for them.

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Tue Aug 17 2021
5

Quando a perfeição é sentida ao escutar esta criação.

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Tue Oct 19 2021
5

Rating: 9/10 Beat songs: Drive, Everybody hurts, Ignoreland, Man on the moon

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

Awesome album, maybe the first five star that I hadn't listened to all the way through before. My favourites were nightswimming and drive, but even the instrumental was brilliant. I'm definitely going to explore more R.E.M. when I get a chance, to see what other wonders share albums with songs I know!

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Fri Dec 17 2021
5

Oh man. I really slept on this album and can't believe what I missed. Everybody hurts got memed to death but it remains an amazing song. But my fave track remains "try not to breathe." For some reason their work reminds me of the Smiths. Though not sure why.

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Mon Feb 07 2022
5

Some classic tracks, brilliant all round album

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Tue Feb 08 2022
5

Absolutely loved it. The first album to melt my emotionless heart and give me goosebumps. I never really looked into R.E.M. despite really liking "Losing my Religion", but now I want to go and listen to their entire discography. Favorite songs: "Drive", "Try Not To Breathe", "Everybody Hurts", "Man on the Moon", "Find the River". I think the worst one would be the instrumental, but I can still appreciate it.

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Sat Feb 19 2022
5

Oni su mi baš sjeli negdje ljeti 2020te kad sam prešao iz Kapele u SPS raditi. Znam da sam putem ujutro njihove albume lupo često, najviše bi to bio Fables of the Reconstruction, Lifes Rich Pageant i ovaj. Ovaj album nije skroz savršen, ali je stvarno jako blizu ko što je sa mnoštvo njihovih (Document, LRP, FotR i Murmur), na RYM sam stavio 4.5, što i je tako, nije četvorka, jače je od toga, a pošto ovdje te jebene pola zvjezdice nemamo, morat ću dat peticu. Također, ovo je njihov zadnji album koji me se tako jako dojmio. Imali su 5 jako jako odličnih albuma u nizu, onda su došla 2 average albuma pa tek onda ovaj, i dalje je historija.

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Wed Mar 09 2022
5

I really like this album, and very much enjoyed listening to it again. I also seem to like REM more the older I get.

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Tue Mar 15 2022
5

I forgot how much I enjoyed REM. Took me back to college days when my history prof would plan this as background music.

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Fri Mar 18 2022
5

4.7 - First, "Everybody Hurts" is a perfectly realized pop song with an impeccable structure, measured instrumental arrangement, universally relatable message and transcendent vocal performance. Second, the more "secondary" hits (if they can be called that) are also incredible. From "Man on the Moon" with Stipe's breathy vocals and the slide guitar pre-chorus, to "Drive" with its dark lyrical repetition, to "Nightswimming" with its gorgeous piano composition. Third, the overall album flow is so artful and balanced, striking the right notes at (almost) every turn. Up until now I've remained a reluctant R.E.M fan, having endured "Losing My Religion" played on merciless repeat in '89. Definitively, this album breaks that reluctance. With the exception of "Ignoreland" that somewhat sours the middle with some generic political bellyaching, this is an exceptional record.

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Mon Mar 21 2022
5

album filled with insane songs

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Fri Mar 25 2022
5

Alright, let's just disclose the bias from the get-go. This album came out when I was just getting into music around the age of 13. So it has nostalgic value. I do not own it but all my classmates who were more knowledgeable of music did. I still remember one classmate (who was a big Beatles fan at 13, so he can't be all wrong) telling me Nightswimming was hands down the best song on the album. Probably 10 years later I was rediscovering the album and I had to agree. I ran into him at a bar once and told him that. It's just a beautiful composition (love Mike Mills' piano) and one I could play on repeat for weeks on end. And I just learned John Paul Jones provided the string arrangements on it and two other of my favorites. I mean, how can you not love that? To me, this album was the pinnacle of their greatest songwriting period (1987-1995ish). I still don't really love Drive or Man on the Moon - both are waaay overplayed - but they don't suck. And there are some great lesser knowns - Try Not to Breathe (a superior brooding song to those two well-knowns), the Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite (super fun), Find the River (a nice closer with a John Denver feel that grows on you). Even songs like New Orleans Instrumental Vol. 1 through to Ignoreland, which are not as good as the others, have a certain edge to them. Some if it is Peter Buck's scratchy guitar work, some of it is the excellent lyrics, some of it is other backing instruments. Funny enough, I have never got tired of Everybody Hurts - something about it affects me every time, especially the crescendo that starts around the 4 minute mark. Listening again, I realize the album's sad and darker tones also likely play a big role in why I'm drawn to it. Still I guess it's like 6 great songs, 4 good songs, and a couple so-so songs. It feels like at least 4.5 and giving it a 4 would counteract my bias but I'm just going to embrace it.

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Fri Apr 01 2022
5

Really good, enjoyed it a lot. My favourite was Nightswimming, thought it was great.

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Wed Apr 06 2022
5

Ens va sorprendre a tots. Ningú esperava això després d''Out of Time'. Semblava que la banda ja havia arribat al cénit de la seva carrera amb 'Losing My Religion' i la resta de singles extasiants que s'havien tret de la màniga... i ens donen no un disc que estava a l'alçada, sinó una obra mestra indiscutible i que competeix de tu a tu amb molt pocs altres per ser reivindicat com a millor disc dels '90. Obscur, melangiós, pessimista.. i increïblement inspirat. No hi ha cap tema que no sigui meravellós i alguns d'ells estan entre el millor que ha donat la música rock

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Mon Apr 11 2022
5

Prior to this release I considered R.E.M. a band that I liked very much but didn’t love. I thought their releases were uniformly good, but not excellent. Automatic for the People changed that for me. The move from jangle pop to more moody and reflective songs resonated with me and I think resulted in their most cohesive and overall strongest work.

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Thu Apr 14 2022
5

This helped us through a very rough period. Wise, thoughtful and empathic songs, performed beautifully. A record for healing

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Thu Apr 21 2022
5

It's funny, I know every note, intimately, of Out of Time, the album before Automatic for the People. It was my constant companion through a rough patch of my life. Not out of love for REM but for purely circumstantial reasons. Which wore a groove in my heart where REM can fit. That said I've never given any time to Automatic for the People; I only know the hits. But I'm happy to take it for a spin. Initial impression is that it is musically similar but a bit sadder and darker maybe a little more sophisticated. Having listened twice this album is absolutely devastatingly gorgeous to listen to. The sound of it, the mood, the completely realized themes. Everybody Hurts is an iconic, seminal work. Try Not To Breath, Sweetness Follows and Monty Got a Raw Deal and Find The River are also incredibly powerful, of course along with Drive and Man On The Moon. Indeed all the songs offer something worthy. A genuine five star album. I regret not having visited before.

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Sun May 08 2022
5

Rock alternativos. Varios megahits. Vinilo.

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Fri May 20 2022
5

It was nice to have a replay of this! Such a big part of my early 90s listening

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Wed May 25 2022
5

A delightful album, evocative and poetic and it sounds beautiful - the layering of the instruments, especially acoustic, is exquisite. There is a style and mood and confidence about REM at this point and I appreciate they’ve switched up the template. The four album run of Out of Time / Automatic… / Monster and my personal favourite, New Adventures in Hi Fi (go figure) is really impressive. Stipe is at his most engaging and emotionally connected with this album and there are some real tearjerkers - Drive, Everybody Hurts, Nightswimming, Find the River are truly moving moments. Throw in a but of levity with Sidewinder and Man in the Moon, pick up the tempo with Ignoreland and it’s really satisfying. A modern classic.

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Thu May 26 2022
5

This is a seriously great album with some amazing songs on it. I remember even in 1992 thinking that REM were geniuses. That still holds.

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Tue Jun 07 2022
5

One of the most vital albums of its time.

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Sat Jun 18 2022
5

94/100 1 Everybody Hurts 2 Man on the Moon 3 Nightswimming

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