Album: Collapse into Now
Label: Warner Bros.
It’s been nearly thirty years since R.E.M. released their debut album, and with their fifteenth LP they have finally come full circle. After a series of lower profile releases over the past few years, R.E.M’s Collapse into Me arrives with forceful intent.
A relatively short album, Collapse into Me is a culmination of everything R.E.M. has accomplished previously in their storied career. There are moments from Lifes Rich Pageant and Green that are sporadically interspersed with elements from Automatic for the People and Monster (to name just a few of their albums that are nostalgically remembered here). In essence, it’s like a greatest hits album that consists of brand new material.
What is readily apparent, though, is that the band is gleefully embracing a sense of reckless abandon. Unashamed of their history, they are wholeheartedly allowing their past to influence the sound of this record. Rollicking feel-good tracks like “Mine Smell Like Honey” (which includes energizing backing vocals from Mike Mills), “Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter” and “That Someone is You” have all been heard before to some degree, but yet seem innovative and original.
While at other times, the melancholic sensitivity that has always permeated throughout Michael Stipe’s song writing and vocals is echoed on the tracks “Oh My Heart”, “Walk it Back” and “Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I”. Other musicians may know how to sing a sad song, but no one truly makes you feel it quite like Stipe does.
It’s readily apparent that Stipe, Mills and Peter Buck have graciously progressed into middle age with a new found passion for music. The album is refreshing in its approach because their rejuvenation resonates throughout the duration of every track, and consequently stimulates the listener’s ears. And, of course, it must be mentioned that the obtuse lyricism that has come to define the band as quirky eccentrics is still exemplified here.
An invigorating treat, R.E.M’S Collapse into Now is a reminder of how great this band still truly is.