Sound — 10
Out Of Time is the album that pretty much made R.E.M one of the biggest bands in the world. It was their second release on Warner Bros (the first being "Green"). The album marks something of a change from the jangle-pop that had dominated their sound for the previous decade. Acoustic guitars, mandolins and string sections feature prominently, complementing the sweet songwriting. The album borders on folk, pop and the lighter side of rock, and uses the best of those genres. Instrumentally, the music is simple, but really effective and memorable.
Lyrics — 10
The songwriting on this release is absolutely top-notch. Generally speaking, the lyrics are on the simpler side of R.E.M's work (not in a bad way), featuring more upbeat topics (such as "Near Wild Heaven and "Shiny Happy People", which is so upbeat and happy you have to wonder if it's being sarcastic, but I find it best to just take it at face value). The band clearly has a way with words. "Losing My Religion", which was the massive hit for this album, contains some of the most memorable lyricism I've ever heard. Stipe's voice suits the music perfectly. Having spent much of the previous decades murmuring through songs, there's a great clarity and straight-forwardness to his voice that works really well (helped by the clear production).
Overall Impression — 9
This is one of my very favourite albums. It's just something I can listen to the whole way through and enjoy all of it. I guess the nice thing about it is, apart from the massive hits ("Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People", which are masterpieces in their own right), the album is full of little gems that will probably be rebounding around your head for a while after you've heard them ("Near Wild Heaven" and "Half A World Away" being prime examples). In my mind, the weak spots of the album are "Radio Song" and "Low". Don't get me wrong, they're fine songs but for me they're just not up to the standard of the other ones. This should go down fine with any fans of R.E.M. It's different than most other releases, but still contains most of the things that make them one of the best bands on the planet. It's hard to compare this album to many other releases. It's not that it's something so unconventional as to make it one of a kind, it's just quite unique, running the line between folk, pop and rock quite enjoyably.