Reliving the tracks from one of R.E.M.‘s most known albums:
Automatic For The People (1992, R.E.M.)
Automatic For The People is one of those albums that took a while for me to appreciate and, looking back, I have no idea why. Maybe just because it’s so different from the R.E.M. of the 80’s. It’s crazy how much the band evolved within a decade. You initially wouldn’t even think its the same group. But it is and it’s every bit as great as their finest work in the 1980’s.
It starts with a moody tone on “Drive”, a great way to start off the album with some beautiful orchestration. “Try Not To Breathe” is a strong highlight, being a powerful song about death. Michael Stipe approaches these complex emotions in a very straightforward non melodramatic manner, which is refreshing. I can’t get enough of how it grooves. “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” is R.E.M. at their most upbeat and it never fails to put a smile on my face. Easily one of my favorites. “Everybody Hurts” is a great reminder to hang on when life gets difficult. “New Orleans Instrumental No. 1” is a pleasant instrumental that you may remember hearing in Edgar Wright film Baby Driver (2017). “Sweetness Follows” has a great tone with life-affirming lyrics.
“Monty Got A Raw Deal” is a great jam with Peter Buck bringing out the mandolin. “Ignoreland” is a political rocker that straight up rules in pure R.E.M. fashion. “Star Me Kitten” has a nice jazzy vibe. Very soothing. “Man On The Moon” is probably R.E.M.’s most well known song and how can one not love it?! The latin beat and harmonies are unforgettable. It will always put a smile on my face. “Nightswimming” will move you tears. It’s so beautiful and life affirming. The piano melody and Stipe’s lyrics are gorgeous beyond words and reminds one of the beautiful moments in life. And lastly, “Find The River” is low key one of R.E.M.’s finest moments. In fact, if “Perfect Circle” didn’t exist, it would be my favorite R.E.M. song. It’s both epic and intimate.
It’s great to hear a band as down to earth as R.E.M. make a life affirming album like this. It truly has the power to affect one’s mindset in a positive manner. It reminds us that, although death and darkness can’t be avoided, life is beautiful and caring matters.
Do you have a favorite R.E.M. album? Let us know your thoughts!