The popular music of the 1980s (new wave) is notable for placing a hefty focus on synthesizers. However, many groups wouldn’t follow new wave’s format, choosing to play jangly guitar rock. The most notable of these groups, at least in the United States, was R.E.M. R.E.M. was very mainstream in the 1990s but was primarily relegated to college campuses during the 1980s, at least until they released their breakthrough album Document in 1987.
Document is filled with fun and serious jangly alternative rock songs. It’s very guitar heavy and the guitars are heavier than the guitars on R.E.M.’s previous releases. The album also has quite a few hits, such as “The One I Love” and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”.
“The One I Love” may seem like a simple love song, but is actually much darker in nature, as seen in the line “A simple prop to occupy my time.” Either way, radio stations helped push this song to number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, R.E.M.’s first top ten hit. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” is about just what it sounds like, the end of the world. It’s a great, fast song, one of my favorites from R.E.M. Funnily enough, streams and downloads of the song greatly increased with the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, a good thing in light of bad circumstances.
After Document, R.E.M. became massive and would reach an untouchable position in the 1990s, becoming an American institution. We can attribute this to Document’s success. I give it a 9/10 as it’s definitely worth your time. Give it a go when you have the chance. You won’t regret it!