michael gallucci

ALBUM REVIEW — R.E.M.

In album review on 02/16/2011 at 10:05 am

R.E.M.

Collapse Into Now

(Warner Bros.)

After a decade of struggling with their relevancy, R.E.M. regained a sense of purpose on 2008’s Accelerate, their most focused album in years. But on their 15th record, Collapse Into Now, they’re back to their late-’90s/early-’00s shuffling of moods, sounds, and consistency. There are straight-up rock numbers (“Discoverer”), soggy ballads (“Oh My Heart”), and mid-tempo pop songs (“It Happened Today”), but not much sticks. Collapse Into Now was pieced together in three different cities, which contributes to the mood shifts. R.E.M. aim for scope after the mostly static Accelerate, but the jumps from fuzzbox guitars to orchestral arrangements on Collapse Into Now are meandering, not expansive. The dropped-in guest singers (including Patti Smith, Peaches, and Eddie Vedder) don’t help. “Show the kids how to do it fine,” Michael Stipe sings in the rocker “All the Best.” Maybe 20 years ago.

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