High on the success of their 14th, in a lineage that has spanned nearly thirty years and twenty years since their first #1 chart topping Out of Time, R.E.M. has released their 15th studio album
During the legacy that is R.E.M. there is bound to be the diehard fans as well as the anti-fan. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall, or if you’re somewhere in the middle, you have to ask yourself “Self, when did we all become so spoiled that we demand perfection with everything?”
Perhaps the world has been spoiled by advances in technology. After all future generations can look back and ask “Why wasn’t Rebecca Black bigger? She had near perfect vocals.” To which we can all hang our heads and explain our obsessive overuse of computer technology to refine sound and “Remaster” some of the best music that should have very well been left alone.
Collapse into Now is no exception to the advancements in today’s music production. This overproduced struggle to stay relevant has lost sight of the true passion fans of the early stuff grew to love. Maybe as those who packed the small venues back in the 80’s cross the 50 year old line with Stipe will be satisfied with listening to this on their way to work and won’t notice. Even if that is the case, I cannot overlook the time-tested, deep seeded talents of a group which once made a stance for something and lifted fans of all ages up being obscured by auto levels and crisp lines.
The rock-folk, hyper college kid vibe we’ve come to expect is still here. It is not hard to find. However it is easily lost in the refined, unadventurous sound. The album begins to reel you back about eight tracks in, and then promptly does a 180. Peaches’ contribution to “Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter” delivers an uneasy B52’s vibe that prepared me for a Michael Stipe “Tin Roof, Rusted” that never came.
In an interview with guitarist and co-founder Peter Buck commented on how the band doesn’t think they’ll be touring for this album as they don’t believe touring sells records. To that I have to say thank you. Thank you for making all the people who might be interested in seeing you live feel not worth your time. If we can’t help you make a dollar, we’re not worth it. Apparently no one has ever been inspired by seeing their favorite band live. If you don’t want to tour, don’t. But don’t say you’re not going to perform for fans because you don’t think they’ll give you an extra buck.
If we are graced with another album, the guys should truly take one giant step back and get back to their roots. Record the next in a garage, or basement on an old system. Find that feeling that was less jaded and made us all want to “Stand” again.