Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: R.E.M. “Collapse Into Now”

As I predicted after hearing “Accelerate” (reviewed here), R.E.M. has finally gotten back into the groove that most fans have been longing for since “Adventures In Hi-Fi”. “Accelerate” was a solid release in my book, and a decent ramping back up to form. The band felt like they had the pedal to the metal, but weren’t 100% sure where to go. On “Collapse Into Now”, the band is on cruise control and taking the listener down the roads they know and love.

Easily the band’s most consistently good release in over a decade, “Collapse Into Now” sounds like it belongs in the strata with their best work. It is not quite a masterpiece, but definitely resurrected my affection for the band I knew and loved as a teenager and young adult. Overall, the record is upbeat and rocking, exuding more power and energy than we’d come to expect from today’s R.E.M. The ballads that are present are well done and not so cumbersome. Stipe and company come out with both guns blazing on “Discoverer”, a track that might have been a single from the “Monster” era (Patti Smith lends some vocals on this one as well as “Blue”). On “All The Best” they sure do show the kids just how it’s done. “Uberlin”, “Walk It Back”, and “Oh My Heart” bring back the classic R.E.M. folk ballad side, incorporating mandolin, piano, and/or accordion in ways not heard since “Automatic For The People”. “Mine Smell Like Honey” is generating a lot of buzz – and justifiably so, being one of the most accessible rockers on the record. I also got a kick out of the peppy “Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter”, which features someone named Peaches on backing vocals, and the sublime but almost too short “That Someone Is You”. Also be sure to listen for Eddie Vedder on “It Happened Today”.

Thank you R.E.M. for another terrific record – I can see myself reaching for this one as often as I reach for some of the classics. Just one word of warning – don’t stare at the inside of the digipak too long. Those black and white stripes will make you dizzy!

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10

R.E.M. on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for “Oh My Heart”