Monday, 21 March 2011

Mini Review: R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now

Collapse Into Now is the 15th studio album R.E.M. have released, and it shows. Their enduring popularity led them to expand their sound  into becoming possibly the most beloved American rock bands of the 90s, something a band with humble origins in folk and punk never really seemed to be properly suited for. The bands’ 2008 "comeback" album Accelerate was a strenuous effort to make the band reach their target audience, namely those old enough to remember the endless "Black Hole Sun" summers with fondness, and it’s pleasant to hear moments of Collapse Into Now managing this feat a little more naturally. The opener "Discoverer" sounds thick and can hold the riffs needed to make the track rock amongst the pounding drums, and the fast paced Peaches collaboration "Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter" sounds like a crunchier reinterpretation of  something from earlier in their career. The better moments are stacked against the less enjoyable however. The slow ballad "Walk it Back" lacks any warmth trying to be made and is about as drab as I’ve ever heard the band, and the final track "Blue" is a shameful rehash of previous single "E-Bow the Letter" (Patti Smith also returns, astonishingly). Also of note are the increasing absurdity of Michael Stipe’s lyrics, reaching for abstract but straying far from poetic. Amongst the worst offenders are found on the tracks "It Happened Today" ("This is not a parable/This is a terrible") and "Every Day Is Yours to Win" ("I cannot tell a lie/It’s not all cherry pie"). To say R.E.M have been a great band in the past is an understatement, and when considering they’re approaching their 30th year as a band they’re doing much better than the majority of their peers. If you need a new R.E.M. fix you’ll find it here, but if you’re relatively new to the band there are plenty of other great albums in their career I would recommend over this.

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