R.E.M.
Automatic for the People


4.5
superb

Review

by Mike Allen USER (107 Reviews)
October 29th, 2009 | 129 replies | 23,222 views


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This 1992 release may be the greatest of the band’s prestigious career, combining elements of charm and darkness into an ultimately superb record.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

R.E.M. is a band that’s had an up and down career to say the least. In the early 1980’s, R.E.M. arrived on the music scene with their mellow and simple indie rock. Records such as “Murmur,” “Reckoning,” and “Lifes Rich Pageant,” achieved underground success, and paved the way for their 90’s mainstream achievements. In the mid to late 90’s however, R.E.M. began to experiment with different sound, developing more of a rock feel in “Monster” and becoming more “poppy” in the process. Much of R.E.M.’s 90’s and 2000’s records received mixed results, and some of which hurt the band’s reputation to an extent. Somewhere in between the underground indie rock and the mainstream friendly rock was the 1992 release “Automatic for the People.”

“Automatic for the People” is considered one of R.E.M.’s greatest achievements, if not the greatest. Following the “poppier” and more upbeat “Out of Time,” “Automatic for the People” is a much darker, 45 minute piece in which includes some of the band’s best singles. This particular record is mellow like most typical R.E.M. albums, and both charms and haunts the listener. Sweetness Follows plays on the haunting end with lyrics, “Readying to bury your father and your mother, what did you think when you lost another?” The track is driven by dark keyboard effects and dropped tuning acoustic guitars. Following track Monty Got a Raw Deal is a more upbeat song, but still manages to retain the darkness of the record with an eerie acoustic introduction and again, mysterious lyrics. The lustful Star Me Kitten however, is a much more hopeful track, in which beautiful harmonies create a floating sensation.

Opener Drive features one of the only appearances of the electric guitar, and really enhances the dramatic effect of the track along with the strings. Singer Michael Stipe is at his best here, saying, “Hey kids, rock and roll. Nobody tells you where to go, baby.” Hit single Everybody Hurts is undoubtedly a highlight here, even if it comes off a bit cheesy. This anti-suicide tearjerker features some of Stipe’s best vocal work on the record, and is complemented perfectly by keyboards and arppeggiated guitars. Everybody Hurts however, may not even be the best single from the record. Follow-up single Man on the Moon is an absolutely wonderful tribute to Stipe’s childhood hero, comedian Andy Kauffman. The chorus harmonies are beautiful and this track even offers a bit of comic relief when Stipe mutters, “Hey Andy, are you goofing on Elvis? Hey baby, are we losing touch?”

The flow of this record cannot be undermined, for it is nearly perfect in every way. The piano-driven closer, Nightswimming is another standout track, taking full advantage of the string section and bringing the record to a fitting and nearly perfect finish. Even 135-second instrumental New Orleans Instrumental No. 1 provides a stable bridge between the wishful Everybody Hurts and the haunting Sweetness Follows. Try Not to Breathe is just one of many easy-listening classics on the record, with Stipe claiming, “I need something to breathe.”

R.E.M.’s “Automatic for the People” is a near classic in which includes no filler, and eleven great or better tracks. This 1992 release may be the greatest of the band’s prestigious career, combining elements of charm and darkness into an ultimately superb record.

Recommended Tracks:
Drive
Everybody Hurts
Monty Got a Raw Deal
Man on the Moon
Nightswimming



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4.2
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Comments:Add a Comment 
EVedder27
October 29th 2009



6088 Comments


Without a doubt one of the best albums of the 90s. I probably need to slow down on the reviews since I've written so many lately.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 29th 2009



7237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review for a great album. I was actually about to satrt one for this but theres no point now scene as you covered most of my points. I actually only had this as a 3.5 a few days ago, but it just clicked when I listened to it the other night.

EVedder27
October 29th 2009



6088 Comments


Thanks man. This grew on me as well, I think it took multiple listens for me to realize just how great it is.

BigHans
October 29th 2009



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good album, certainly 1000 times better than the adbomination that is "Monster."

RobotFrank
October 29th 2009



344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't know what copy of the album you have, but mine closes with "Find The River," which is, IMO, one of the two most beautiful songs REM ever wrote (the other being Out of Time closer, "Country Feedback"). Disappointed to see it not even get a mention. You must not have the US version.. What an omission.

And the abomination Monster is my favorite REM album, even if Automatic.. is of overall higher quality. Love the distortion and then the ballads on Monster are great. One man's trash, I suppose... Nice review, +1.

timbo8
October 29th 2009



618 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome album and RobotFrank you're right- "Find the River" is one of my favorite songs period, so beautiful. Reckoning is still my favorite R.E.M. album

Smug
October 29th 2009



227 Comments


this is their last classic album. monster was a piece of shit

scotish
October 29th 2009



835 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

mmmmm this is alright. nightswimming/find the river is quite good yeah. like out of time far more though.

review isn't half bad either.

EVedder27
October 29th 2009



6088 Comments


hmmm not sure why I don't have "Find the River." I live in the US so that would be weird if I didn't have the US version.

Smug
October 29th 2009



227 Comments


woah, you need find the river then

EVedder27
October 29th 2009



6088 Comments


nevermind I have it. For some reason when I ripped the cd on my computer it was the only track that didn't rip. I'll adjust the review with Find the River when I get the chance. Thanks everyone for pointing it out, I've been missing out on a great song.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 29th 2009



7237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah its one of my favs aswell. Id probably have either that or Sweetness Follows in the recommended tracks instead of Monty...

thebhoy
Emeritus
October 29th 2009



4459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review, love this album.

Chewie
October 29th 2009



4531 Comments


very good review, I might need to get this at some point.

Jethro42
October 30th 2009



12036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Another and other and other good review buddy!
I have to bump it from 3.5 to 4. I forgot how good REM are.
You got my vote. Keep on writing man.

Titan50
October 30th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sweet review for a classic album

EVedder27
October 30th 2009



6088 Comments


holy shit Titan you're back

Titan50
October 30th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They can never kill me

NebSnurbPart2
October 30th 2009



52 Comments


My mother has this. Maybe I should listen.

Titan50
October 30th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You should



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