Recorded initially during their 1995 tour, as members of the band were falling apart in very real and physical ways (only Peter Buck made it through unscathed), New Adventures in Hi-Fi marked a pretty extraordinary moment in commercial rock history, as the album REM released shortly after signing a reported $80 million deal with Warner Bros. Whatever the veracity of the amount, we’re talking about a lot of money, and (you might think) a lot of leaning-on by suits. You might also think that someone, somewhere, would have been thinking along the lines of “but hang on, surely in Out of Time and Automatic they’ve already hit their commercial and artistic peak?”. Perhaps, but never underestimate the power and value of the back-catalogue.

So all hail R.E.M, for choosing “E-Bow the Letter” as the lead single for New Adventures in Hi-Fi, with its magnificent dirge of an intro, spoken lyric, and the duelling of Patti Smith and Buck’s guitar in the chorus, competing to make the most mournful noise.