The supporting tour for Green exhausted R.E.M., and they spent nearly a year recuperating before reconvening for Out of Time. Where previous R.E.M. records captured a stripped-down, live sound, Out of Time was lush with sonic detail, featuring string sections, keyboards, mandolins, and cameos from everyone from rapper KRS-One to the B-52's' Kate Pierson. The scope of R.E.M.'s ambitions is impressive, and the record sounds impeccable, its sunny array of pop and folk songs as refreshing as Michael Stipe's decision to abandon explicitly political lyrics for the personal. Several R.E.M. classics -- including Mike Mills' Byrds-y "Near Wild Heaven," the haunting "Country Feedback," and the masterpiece "Losing My Religion" -- are present, but the album is more notable for its production than its songwriting. Most of the songs are slight but pleasant, or are awkward experiments like "Radio Song"'s stab at funk, and while this sounds fine as the record is playing, there's not much substantive material to make the record worth returning to.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine