Review: R.E.M., ‘Collapse Into Now’

Review: R.E.M., ‘Collapse Into Now’: Aidin Vaziri | The first few minutes of R.E.M.’s “Collapse Into Now” will make your heart leap out of your chest. As the chiming guitars and thudding beat of “Discoverer” open the group’s 15th studio album, there is a thrilling nostalgic rush – particularly when front man Michael Stipe starts twisting his words into poetic nonsense like he used to back in the band’s long-haired ’80s heyday: “Sand paper/ papier-mache/ Chalk/ And hung out wet.” Could it be? Could the group that once meant the world to everyone but now means nothing to anyone finally be back on form? More so than it has been in the past two decades, at least. As it chugs forward with “All the Best” and the stunning ballad “Uberlin,” it quickly becomes clear that “Collapse Into Now” is R.E.M.’s most consistent and accessible album since 1992’s “Automatic for the People.” There are guest appearances by Eddie Vedder, Peaches and Patti Smith, but they are mere distractions on this wholehearted comeback effort. The best moments – from the jangling “Mine Smell Like Honey” to the surreal musings of “Me and Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I” – come when R.E.M. simply sounds like R.E.M. again.

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