Automatic for the People turned 25 last year. The reissue box set sounds great, and reveals how timeless this work is. My children can’t help but react to each song—my daughter’s flailing during Monty Got a Raw Deal is actually a pretty good Stipe impression, and she’s never seen him do it. The famous 40 Watt show from November ‘92 is included, and even though I’ve heard it countless times, this is the first professional mix of it, and it matters. At the time this album came out, I had some ambivalence about it, even though R.E.M. remained my favorite band. With time, I’ve come to embrace those elements I initially couldn’t make sense of or judged as too weak or simple. Its themes of mortality and nostalgia only resonate stronger as life goes on. The year this album came out, Sgt. Pepper’s was celebrating its 25th anniversary, and here we are 25 years later. This fact almost serves as a bonus track. And is there any better two-song closer on any album ever? I’m not sure there is. “The river to the ocean goes, a fortune for the undertow.”

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