Automatic for the People was intended to be a fast rock album. So if you’ve ever needed proof of R.E.M. as a band guided by their unforced collective muse, their eighth full-length was a start. Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry all began recording demos and trading instruments in hopes to break away from the largely acoustic and folksy Out of Time, their previous and highest-selling album ever thanks to the inescapable worldwide hit “Losing My Religion”. But as the tunes took shape, somehow they turned out even slower and more funereal than the last record. Michael Stipe took notice, and the lyrics he penned centered largely around death and loss.