R.E.M.: Collapse Into Now (Warners)

 |   |  1 min read

R.E.M.: Oh My Heart
R.E.M.: Collapse Into Now (Warners)

Thirty years into a career and with this, their 15th studio album, it seems a bit rich for REM bassist Mike Mills to say this one is somehow different with really beautiful slow songs, some nice mid-tempo ones and three or four rockers.

That pretty much describes every REM album in the past two decades, and for this one -- despite them talking it up, and Michael Stipe's lyrics even more wilfuly abstruse -- they hardly mess with the template.

There are some songs here which are hard to get attached to (Every Day is Yours to Win) and others which you'll swear you must have heard on one of their albums before (Uberlin). So this is very familiar territory, but as always not without its winners.

The stripped-back, dramatically tense ballads Oh My Heart and Walk It Back you will either hear as emotionally naked songs by Stipe or slightly straining for that effect (I'd argue for the former), and they let loose garageband rock'n'roll (with Lenny Kaye on guitar and Peaches on vocals) on the challengingly titled Alligator-Aviator-Autopilot-Antimatter (which you don't want to type too often) and That Someone Is You which namechecks New Order, Young Marble Giants, Sharon Stone in Casino, Al Pacino and Gran Torino.

The closer Blue (with Patti Smith) is a song-noir where Stipe speaks rapid-fire images over a drone and Smith's dreamlike vocals. It's the least REM-like track here and one of those you return to, and not just because Smith's solo part is so beguiling or the fact it loops you back to the opening track Discoverer.

But overall, 30 years on it sounds like business as usual in the REM camp and while this has its highpoints -- about half the 12 tracks -- it rarely breaks step into new territory so inevitably invites comparison to their earlier and often better albums.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this guy.

Share It

Your Comments

The Riverboat Captain - Mar 14, 2011

The first R.E.M. album I've shelled out hard-earned cash for since Monster in 1994. Seven and a half, maybe eight, out of ten.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Black Keys: “Let's Rock” (Easy Eye)

Black Keys: “Let's Rock” (Easy Eye)

The first time I saw the Black Keys was at a Kings Arms gig when they were just starting out and were being acclaimed by the bFM crowd as some kind of alt.blues band. They were pretty dire and... > Read more

Joan Baez: Whistle Down the Wind (Proper/Southbound)

Joan Baez: Whistle Down the Wind (Proper/Southbound)

Sometimes you just have to come clean and admit you were wrong: As I did in '94 when I wrote about Across the Great Divide, a box set of The Band, a group whose music I had found terminally dull... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WENDY O. WILLIAMS: Baby you can trash my car

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WENDY O. WILLIAMS: Baby you can trash my car

The spirit and essence of rock'n'roll is impossible to define. For some it was encapsulated by Little Richards' visceral scream and shout of “Awoobopaloobop Alopbamboom”.... > Read more

JACK DeJOHNETTE (2013) From the Sixties into his 70s

JACK DeJOHNETTE (2013) From the Sixties into his 70s

If you got togther any group of contemporary jazz drummers -- "a violence of drummers" perhaps? -- it would be the rare figure in their midst who didn't name Jack DeJohnette among their... > Read more