Delete “Radio Song” (an ironic jangle-funk-hip-hop hybrid about the wrong songs being on the radio, a song that’s probably the reason so many rockists don’t listen to funk or hate hip-hop), “Low” (a melodyless dirge), “Endgame” (an instrumental that overstays its welcome and has some groaning attempts at playing around with tempo; the descending guitar hook that’s slowed down sounds like Peter Buck screwed up than anything else) and “Belong” (another melodyless dirge) and shit, you’d have half an album left that still wouldn’t be fit to shine the shoes of any of R.E.M.’s best albums. And I’m personally not technically savvy enough to do this, but if you are, you can go ahead and slash the second halves of “Near Wild Heaven” and “Shiny Happy People” to make them better songs. The former has a bridge that I imagine they play on repeat in retirement homes to try and prevent you from attempting suicide because your children won’t visit you but ends up with the complete opposite effect. The latter has a bridge that they just drop themselves in without so much as a parachute, a laziness that’s emblematic of everything about the band post-80s; really look at the cover for more details. I’m guessing “Losing My Religion” has a bridge that’s equally awful to either of those songs, but truthfully, I rarely ever hear the song play out in its entirety because most of its magic is in its opening seconds.
Their worst album at this point in time; the rest of the second side that I haven’t mentioned is a sauceless salad after the highs-and-lows of the preceding tracks. Outside of closer “Me in Honey,” where the riff works hard at countering Michael Stipe’s annoying “What about me?!?!” hook (Jacob: What about you?) and the Kate Pierson-aided conclusion (of the B-52’s), there’s nothing to say about any of it. I know plenty of people in real life or ‘round parts like these who believe R.E.M. to be a boring band and Out of Time must be what those people think of when they think of the band – an album without the mystery of R.E.M.’s indie years or without the huge successes of some of the stuff to come. In other words, an album without much of anything at all.