Collapse Into Now
Music review by Sebastian Gahan 18/3/2011
In days as turbulent and eventful as these the word now has an added imperative.
Faced with the ever changing whims of ever changing politicians and economic circumstances that stimulate nothing but scaremongering and punning headlines, it's a comfort to know that in these difficult times artists are finding inspiration when even the protest song seems to be a thing of the past. Fittingly, perhaps because of the perceived urgency of world events, the latest album from alternative rock legends R.E.M. is called Collapse Into Now. What aural delights could it hold? Only a listen will truly tell...
No strangers to strong openers, the band throw their intentions down firmly on the table with the buoyant and charming guitars and trademar vocal urgency of Michael Stipe. In fact, it's pretty obvious from the sheer energy he imbues the song with that we may be about to hear a classic album in the style of their best work. There is an undeniable summery vibe present to Discoverer, bringing to mind 2000's Reveal. This is followed up by the harsher sound of All The Best and the relatively calm Uberlin, both of which bring to mind previous album Accelerate in their production values and straight ahead melodies.
As the album continues, you notice little things that intrigue you pleasantly, such as the deceptive melancholy of It Happened Today - a more celebratory cousin to New Adventures In Hi Fi's New Test Leper - and Every Day Is Yours To Win, and the musical guests who slip into the atmosphere almost unnoticed on occasion. Most notably, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, who lend their indisputable talents together on Blue and separately on, opener Discoverer and the fascinating Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter, respectively, with the smile cracking lyric of 'I feel like an alligator climbing up the escalator' and rapper Peaches on co-lead vocals.
Indeed, it seems that R.E.M. have mined a nugget of the creativity of old times with Collapse Into Now and although the lyrics are more personal and less political this time round this is still a band - and indeed album - you would listen to without any hesitation.
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