“A 3-legged dog is still a dog. It just has to learn to run differently,” was how Michael Stipe summarised REM’S retooled status as a trio after the departure of drummer Bill Berry in 1997, and the resulting experimental sound might be their very own Kid A moment. Woozy electro-rock with nods to late-70s Suicide and even Krautrock give these songs a sombre ebb and flow, from Hope’s analogue pulse to the belligerent, grungy solo work on The Apologist and Walk Unafraid. This is mostly a record of quieter moments, though, chief among them being At My Most Beautiful, a charming love letter to Pet Sounds -era Beach Boys complete with honey-sweet vocal harmonies. Atypical and underrated.
Recommended track: At My Most Beautiful