Automatic For The People by REM was the album that catapulted the band into the mainstream - big time - after they teetered on the edge with their previous album, Out Of Time and the success of Shiny Happy People. It is a musical triumph and their most famous album. It contains their most famous hits such as Everybody Hurts, Man On The Moon and The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite.
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- Automatic For The People by R.E.M.
9/10 Penrith Steve Customer review, 15th February 2016
If "Out of Time" hadn't drawn a line under the halcyon college rock days of REM's '80s output, "Automatic For The People" surely did. You can view "Automatic For The People" from afar and dismiss tracks such as "Everybody Hurts" for being too mawkish and appearing on cheesy love song compilation albums. However, those good ol' days weren't perfect either: Stephen Malkmus in, Pavement's REM tribute song "The Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence", points out that "Time After Time was my least favourite song".
Anyway, "Automatic For The People" pretty much made REM the biggest band on the planet, and unusually in such circumstances, it's a great album. With hindsight, it is probably their last great album, too. Albums after this generally had a few good songs on rather that being, like this, a great collection of songs. The album is bookended by two of REM's best ballads, opener "Drive" which eases you into the album nicely, and closing track "Find The River", which melodically is one of the best things they've done. "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight" and "Man On The Moon" are two of the monster hits that this album spawned and remain great songs to this day. "Everybody Hurts" was overplayed by MTV and radio when it was released as a single and really began to get on my nerves, however, these days I can listen to it happily as part of the album as originally intended.
There’s an amount of experimentation on here too, “Sweetness Follows” verges on acid-folk with the oblique acoustic guitar and distortion and feedback low in the mix. On this they got a lot of things right and made a universally popular album without selling out.
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