Prior to this undertaking, I was familiar with Automatic for the People and Monster - the two albums released during my high school days. I knew pieces of Green and Out of Time because I am person that listened to the radio and "It's The End of the World As We Know It" is pretty much ubiquitous to everyone. Even with all that in mind, I still had a lot to consume.
Equally interesting as their first eight releases is the back half of their catalog - another seven albums that seems to really get glossed over when thinking about the band. Their confidence seems to stumble after Monster - are they a rock band? Are they experimenting with electronic music? Are they able to harken back to their more withdrawn beginnings? Maybe those questions are only clear in hindsight. Just by looking at the album titles you can assume the band is trying to push forward as they all have some positive slant to them - New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Up, Reveal, Around the Sun, Accelerate and, finally, Collapse Into Now. Not unsurprising, the final album is probably their finest of the back half.
There's absolutely no way I can go on about REM in a manner that is more educated than those that have been following them since their inception. My insight into the bands musical offerings is cursory compared to the true fans but I find myself with an affinity for them that I certainly lacked before. It even helps inform my enjoyment of Michael Stipe's Tumblr, which was already well established.
If anyone else is curious to take on this discography experiment, I highly recommend REM as a candidate. There's not a single album that doesn't have something worth hearing on it and, for the most part, every album is an enjoyable experience on the whole. Some are certainly far better than others but having such a strong catalog is not an easy task.