Robgen industries newest security system is "The J Series Automatic", an android model designed and programmed to protect humans from violent attacks. But one night, an Automatic named J269 discovers a Robgen executive trying to rape a female employee named Nora Rochester. While trying to stop the crime, he inadvertently kills the executive. At this point, J269 then calls Goddard Marx (his creator and a Robgen chairman) to inform him of the incident. Marx tells the android to stay there with Rochester until help arrives, but Marx is intent on sweeping the fiasco under the rug by sending mercenaries to eliminate both J269 and Rochester. Now the two are fugitives on the run from a para-military hit squad.
Turning away from the sweet pop of Out of Time, R.E.M. created a haunting, melancholy masterpiece with Automatic for the People. At its core, the album is a collection of folk songs about aging, death, and loss, but the music has a grand, epic sweep provided by layers of lush strings, interweaving acoustic instruments, and shimmering keyboards. Automatic for the People captures the group at a crossroads, as they moved from cult heroes to elder statesmen, and the album is a graceful transition into their new status. It is a reflective album, with frank discussions on mortality, but it is not a despairing record – "Nightswimming," "Everybody Hurts," and "Sweetness Follows" have a comforting melancholy, while "Find the River" provides a positive sense of closure. R.E.M. have never been as emotionally direct as they are on Automatic for the People, nor have they ever created music quite as rich and timeless, and while the record is not an easy listen, it is the most rewarding record in their oeuvre.