began to move toward mainstream record production on Lifes Rich Pageant
, but they didn't have a commercial breakthrough until the following year's Document
. Ironically, Document
is a stranger, more varied album than its predecessor, but co-producer Scott Litt
-- who would go on to produce every R.E.M.
album in the following decade -- is a better conduit for the band than Don Gehman
, giving the group a clean sound without sacrificing their enigmatic tendencies. "Finest Worksong," the stream-of-conscious rant "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," and the surprise Top Ten single "The One I Love" all crackle with muscular rhythms and guitar riffs, but the real surprise is how political the mid-tempo jangle pop of "Welcome to the Occupation," "Disturbance at the Heron House," and "King of Birds" is. Where Lifes Rich Pageant
sounded a bit like a party record, Document
is a fiery statement, and its memorable melodies and riffs are made all the more indelible by its righteous anger. In other words, it's not only a commercial breakthrough, but a creative breakthrough as well, offering evidence of R.E.M.
's growing depth and maturity, and helping usher in the P.C. era in the process.