Out of Time (25th Anniversary Edition)
R.E.M.’s seventh album was a milestone on several counts. Having graduated from the jangly, stripped-down sound that made them art-school heroes, the band embraced string sections, guest rappers (KRS-One on “Radio Song”), country music (“Near Wild Heaven”), and the kind of atmospheric Americana that would become their hallmark as the decade went on (“Country Feedback”). Sensing their reach, the band made their politics clearer, too: the original CD packaging even came with a petition for the Rock the Vote campaign. But the album’s lynchpin remains “Losing My Religion,” a mournful, mandolin-led rumination that ended up being a huge—and hugely unlikely—hit. “Religion” is one of several songs featured here in revelatory demo form, the sound of a band broadening their sound while retaining the essential mystery that fueled their appeal.