Dear R.E.M.,

I am writing you this letter to let you know that I think we should see other people.  I want you to know that it’s not you, it’s me.  We have had some ups and downs over the years, but I think it is time to move on.

I would like to remember the good times: everything at the beginning was wonderful; I first became enamored with “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”  You continued to impress me with “Everybody Hurts” and “Orange Crush.”

But for every “Drive” there is a “Shiny Happy People.”  With every “Night Swimming,” I am pulled back in and sucker punched by a “Stand.”  I do not want to deal with this see-saw of musical experience with you anymore.

These examples may be polar extremes, but they illustrate my listening session with Collapse Into Now. I was tentatively roped in by the high energy anthems of “Discoverer” and “All the Best.”  “Walk It Back” is a fantastic ballad with a beautiful piano accompaniment; it was almost enough to make me forget any prior transgressions.

Then I found the ill-named “Mine Smell Like Honey” and songs like “Oh My Heart” that have all the sensibilities of classic R.E.M.  There was a mandolin and accordion, but it did not feel quite as authentic as when you were “the boys from Athens.”  Everything seemed forced, like you were perfunctorily playing a style of music you thought everyone wanted and not breaking new ground.

While some true-blooded R.E.M. fans will sing your praises and say you have tapped into the essence that is what made them fall in love with you, I cannot join them in their reverie.  It feels like you’re trying to change, to be the person you used to be before you took crazy pills.  However, I worry that if I take you back, you’ll go back to opening my mail and killing my plants.  I may open the door again at some point, but until then…

…Until then, at least we’ll always have Document.