‘Collapse Into Now’ | R.E.M.

| Music Editor


For fans of:
R.E.M., circa 2004
Track to download:
‘Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter’

“Collapse Into Now,” is billed as R.E.M.’s 15th studio album, but there must have been some kind of mix-up at the music factory because “Collapse” is almost certainly a collection of the last decade’s B-sides.

It’s undeniably R.E.M. music—jangling guitars, Michael Stipe’s distinct voice, the folksy-alt rock sound—and it is admittedly not bad, just missing something like the band has something to prove, which is a shame because R.E.M. hasn’t put out anything fantastic since 1996. Too many tracks on “Collapse” are just all right—mid-tempo, mezzo-forte, mildly interesting. In a word, meh. It’s easy to forget you’re listening to them before they’re even over.

Perhaps the greatest gaffe is Stipe’s lyrics. He sounds like he’s channeling the Black Eyed Peas on “Discover,” the refrain of which is an insufficient “Discover!” yelled repeatedly, though at least it’s better than the back end of the album where he speak-sings as if even he’s kind of bored.

The band pulls out a lot of shiny bells and whistles to compensate, but when the cameos by Patti Smith, Peaches and Eddie Vedder, the music video directed by James Franco, and the trombone trio, sousaphone and bouzouki are stripped away, there’s not enough substance to make the album anything more than OK.

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