100 Best Albums of the Nineties

From Moby to Nirvana, the records that defined a decade

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R.E.M., 'Out of Time'

68. R.E.M., 'Out of Time'

Made in the wake of the 1988 power-chord mother Green and the no-arena-left-unturned world tour that followed, Out of Time was an exercise in folk-pop understatement that, perversely but deservedly, made R.E.M. bigger than ever. For all of its apparent melancholy (the raindrop sound of Peter Buck's mandolin, the bleak sigh of a pedal steel guitar), Out of Time is a grand lift, elegant sanity with sure-shot songwriting. In "Losing My Religion," "Low" and "Country Feedback," Michael Stipe sings not only about lapsed faith and consuming loss but of quietly regaining ground and equilibrium. And you get the big-grin bounce of "Near Wild Heaven" and "Me in Honey," because redemption is always a good excuse to go dancing.

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