For believing albums are dead, R.E.M. have put out one of their best ever. Even more so, something I really think needs to be said about this album is that unlike most R.E.M. albums, Collapse Into Now doesn’t have their typical mid-album slump (something also very apparent in their last outing Accelerate). But if anything, I think R.E.M.’s reaction to the album is interesting because although in interviews they almost sound as if they’re full of it, they play on the album with as much f%^& you conviction as ever. Actually, it often sounds like they’re having a really good time.
True, many lyrics may have them taking the role of curmudgeonly journeymen talking to “the kids”, but if that’s my main complaint of this album… then I’ll take it, because at 30, I often feel completely out of sync with lots of things that are happening nowadays and the music here says that loud and clear. Whatever you’re doing now, we’re not interested, this is how we rock.
Collapse Into Now maintains the focus seen on Accelerate, but a hell of a lot of variety has been added to the mix to offer up a great solid collection of songs that lyrically, musically and thematically matter. Peter Buck even pulled out the mandolin to reminisce on greener and less socially-networked pastures of the days of old.
Great lyrics, good choruses and impressively so, one of the most intelligible I’ve ever heard Michael Stipe. Although the interviews and the album title might project a sense of pessimism and nihilistic tendencies towards their relevance, Collapse Into Now is the work of great musicians, making great music just for the hell of it apparently.