9. Automatic for the People - R.E.M.
After years of being on the edge of the mainstream, R.E.M. were about to go on an insane run of albums at the end of the '80s. Following their massive breakout with Murmur back in 1983, all of those years were spent slowly building to something better, with Losing My Religion pretty much changing the landscape of soft rock overnight. These rock stars were now grown men, and Automatic for the People was a look at what rock stars were going to be like once they hit their 30's.
Throughout this entire record, you can hear Michael Stripe almost grappling with his own sanity, dissecting every emotion that he has as he starts to get gray around the temples, from the struggles that come with depression on Everybody Hurts to harkening back to his youth that seems to be slipping away on Nightswimming. The instrumentation is also much different than any other project of theirs, being almost folksy in its presentation and even bringing in John Paul Jones to add orchestral arrangements as well.
This is definitely more of a downer compared to most of R.E.M.'s other albums, but there isn't a moment where it starts to sound defeatist by any stretch. It wasn't going to be easy keeping a rock and roll band together and leave your youth behind, but if you can keep everything steady, sweetness will follow.