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

Tami Neilson: Dynamite! (Southbound)

Tami Neilson: Dynamite! (Southbound)

Country singer Neilson (originally from Canada) set the bar high on three previous award-winning albums. But this exceptional outing – five songs co-written with Delaney Davidson who also... > Read more

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Oxymoron (ECM New Series/Ode)

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Oxymoron (ECM New Series/Ode)

Contemporary classical music -- which often sounds like it comes from "elsewhere" -- sometimes gets a look in at these pages, especially if it is challenging. And this certainly is.... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE RAMONES END OF THE CENTURY. METALLICA SOME KIND OF MONSTER DVDS REVIEWED (2007)

THE RAMONES END OF THE CENTURY. METALLICA SOME KIND OF MONSTER DVDS REVIEWED (2007)

The best thing about being in a band? You get to stay up late and make a lot of noise, maybe make some money and become famous. If you want people to notice your group it's a good tip to all dress... > Read more

Hong Kong: When the rain comes they run and hide their heads

Hong Kong: When the rain comes they run and hide their heads

When the serious rains come, that end-of-days Flood you may have heard about, the question won’t be, “Would I get on Noah’s Ark?”. It will be, “Quick, where is... > Read more