Review – ‘Collapse Into Now’, R.E.M.
Now for something different. Or more of the same.
R.E.M. have been going back to their roots, to their early sound for awhile now. I must say I didn’t get Accelerate. It had the sound of an old successful band trying hard to be cool. And those days are long gone. R.E.M. are no longer relevant to the musical world, no matter what their hardcore followers say. But here’s the good news: the new album Collapse Into Now is pretty good, if unspectacular.
Now for a brief track-by-track analysis:
Discovered sounds like a single. Not a fan of R.E.M. anthems. Not a fan of stadium rock.
All The Best is more of the same, as if Discovered didn’t end. A bit too one-paced for my liking.
UBerlin sounds very familiar. In fact it sounds like R.E.M. in autopilot. But, it sounds good, like R.E.M. should sound and Stipe’s voice is in fine fettle.
Oh My Heart showcases my favourite Stipe singing style – the ballad. Slightly gruff, slightly off, in other words, captivating.
It Happened Today is nice, easy listening R.E.M. again on form. But there’s not much bite to it.
Every Day Is Yours To Win – “that’s how heroes are made” sings Stipe like some sort of motivational self-help book. Don’t like multi-millionaire singers patronising me.
I like Mine Smell Like Honey as it sounds a bit ’80s. And not too tired. A bright and breezy track.
Walk It Back is a slow ballad. Middle of the road tuneage but yeah, pretty good. Sorry, folks, I’m a rather sad fan of R.E.M. ballads.
Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter – nonsense track name and nonsense lyrics. Quite like it.
That Someone Is You – an example of R.E.M. having lost their way. It may strive to have the 80s garage sound, but this is just poor.
Me, Marlon Brandon, Marlon Brandon And I – oh yes, more ballads, folks. I think this one’s trying to be meaningful, if you can get past Stipe’s slurred singing here. “Take me deeper down, down, down…” – sounds like just another day at the office.
Oh, the spoken end track, Blue, highlights the streams of consciousness/Beat approach to some of Stipe’s work. Ginsberg comes to mind. “Blue, blue, blue” is echoed at one point. A beautiful end to the album. Why couldn’t the rest of the album be like this?
So, back on track or trying to recapture something dead? Personally, I believe R.E.M. need to stay away from crowd-pleasers and attempts at getting back in touch with the ’80s and produce work of the quality of Blue. Spend longer crafting their songs and throwing out anything that sounds second-rate, songs that smell of ease. Only then can they start to matter again.