R.E.M. | Collapse Into Now

Warner Bros. (2011)
By RYAN REED  |  March 16, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars

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It's tough for a band nearly 30 years into their singularly influential career not to dissolve into an adjective. But R.E.M. have taken their moniker on quite a musical journey. Last time out, 2008's Accelerate, they created a raw, pummeling, electric-guitar-dominated record, regaining in the process an urgency missing since their late-'80s/early-'90s prime. And on Collapse into Now, they sound more like R.E.M. than they have in years, mixing some of their big-rock aggression with more introspective moments. Michael Stipe was blessed with such a weirdly distinct voice, he'll remain interesting as long as he keeps opening his mouth and letting the shit fly out. He and Peter Buck know it, too - which is why they often neglect to write actual melodies and opt for rhythmic speak-singing, as on the distorted romp that is "All the Best." When they do bother to think melodically (the 12-string-fueled, classic-R.E.M.-style ballad "It Happened Today"), the result is often less interesting (and dangerously close to corny). But here it's mostly bad-ass business as usual. On the lyric "hip hip hooray," Stipe barely murmurs. He may sound unconvinced in that particular moment, but with Collapse into Now, there's enough reason to keep celebrating.

  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, R.E.M., Michael Stipe,  More more >
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