Out Of Time
On March 12th, R.E.M. released “Out of Time,” their first album since the mega-tour that supported “Green.” “Out of Time” has been hailed by various critics as being some sort of venture into uncharted waters for R.E.M. True, “Out of Time” cannot be grouped with any other R.E.M. album. However, dissimilarity between albums and uniqueness is the one trademark that differentiates R.E.M. from the other million or so bands in the world today.
“Out of Time” can be described as a collection of songs that reflect almost every style of music R.E.M. has ever adhered to, as well as new styles that have not yet been tried by the band. The one trait that binds the eleven songs together as an integral whole are Michael Stipe’s vocals, which loft luxuriously through the heart of each song. Besides Stipe’s vocals, many “typical” elements that compose the R.E. M. sound have been altered. Peter Buck, the band’s guitarist tries his hand at the mandolin for the hit single, “Losing My Religion” as well as “Half a World Away.” Mike Mills, bassist, plays the organ on “Low,” “Shiny Happy People,” “Radio Song,” and “Country Feedback.” Mills also plays the harpsichord on “Half a World Away.” Bill Berry finds himself pounding congos instead of drums on “Low” and even playing bass on “Country Feedback.” Kate Pierson of the B-52’s augments the vocals on three of the songs, and KRS-1 almost engages Stipe in a pseudo-rap on “Radio Song.” Clearly, R.E.M. tries to forge ahead on “Out of Time” by varying their instruments, and even having additional artists present for certain songs.
Michael Stipe’s vocals are, for the most part, very easy to understand, but this is a general trend which has continued since the release of “Document.” Stipe’s style of singing, when combined with supportive instrumental backing of Berry, Mills, and Buck, is absolutely captivating.
“Out of Time” is not the revolutionary new album some critics have made it out to be. It is the mere continuation of their own unique style with which the rest of the music world is only beginning to catch up. On “Out of Time,” R.E.M. really opens up, and gives the listener a taste of everything they have ever produced. To the discriminating R.E.M. fan, as well as a regular music lover, this taste is nothing less than ambrosia. n