"Life's Rich Pageant" is an aptly titled work as it's definitely a lively and rich pageantry of beautiful music.
I especially like the songs "Begin the Begin", "Cuyahoga", and "Superman". However, though the album is rich with some lush and pretty music (it might be the most beautiful upbeat R.E.M. album -- "Automatic for the People" being the most beautiful pensive R.E.M. album) I think its overall quality is a bit less than that of predecessors "Murmur" and "Reckoning" and ancestor "Document".
While representing a bit of a departure from past R.E.M. sound, I'd say that "Life's Rich Pageant" isn't so much a seminal R.E.M. album like "Murmur" or "Out of Time" as it is a bridge between the first three albums ("Murmur", "Reckoning", and "Fables of the Reconstruction") and the two immediately subsequent albums, "Document" and "Green." Songs like "Superman" definitely foreshadow what was to come in those two follow-ups. Other songs, like "Cuyahoga", hearken back more to the three previous albums.
"Life's Rich Pageant" is yet another great R.E.M. record and definitely worth owning. The band's albums are all so good you'll see in each album's reviews, including this one's, a claim by someone saying that that particular album is the band's best. That is the sure sign of a great band.