R.E.M. reveals details of 'expansive,' guest-packed new album: Should we be worried?

REMImage Credit: Erika Goldring/Retna LtdR.E.M. has finished recording Collapse Into Now, its fifteenth studio LP, according to a new interview with Spin. This is excellent news for R.E.M. fans—maybe. The previous decade was a bumpy one for us, as the numerous awesome R.E.M. albums of the ’80s and ’90s (several of which remain severely underrated) led into 2001’s Reveal and 2004’s Around the Sun, both generally regarded as subpar. Many fans, including myself, began to believe in R.E.M. again after 2008’s much better Accelerate. Will Collapse Into Now be a worthy follow-up or another turkey? Let’s look at the clues from that Spin interview…

PRO: The band stuck with Accelerate producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee, who helped guide the band toward a leaner, guitar-driven approach last time. His contributions are a big reason why Accelerate got such positive reviews.

CON: R.E.M.’s Mike Mills says they’re already moving on from that sound: “With Accelerate we were trying to make a point by making the songs as short and as fast as possible. So we wanted this new one to be more expansive.” Uh-oh. Is “expansive” code for more snoozy ballads?

PRO: Patti Smith sings on the new album’s final song. She previously collaborated with them on 1996’s “E-Bow the Letter,” one of their greatest late-career singles.

CON: The album also contains collaborations with Eddie Vedder, which I guess is sorta cool, and electro provocateur Peaches, whose shtick is pretty tired by now. Are all these guests a sign that R.E.M. is running out of new ideas of their own?

Of course, there’s no point judging Collapse Into Now until we actually hear some music. In the meantime, what do you think? Does an “expansive” R.E.M. album with a ton of guests sound like a good idea to you? Weigh in via the comments section.

(Follow The Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Acclerate: EW’s A- review
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Comments (21 total) Add your comment
  • Entertainment2u-Twitter

    how DARE you list Eddie Vedder under the CON section?? one of my greatest concert experiences ever was when Vedder joined REM on stage for a performance. this is GREAT news.

    only CON here — YOUR reporting! ha

  • nodnarb

    Eddie Vedder vs Michael Stipe… is this like a mumbling contest? Pearl Jam may be the only band even more irrelevant than REM. It’s sad to see my former heroes sink so low.

    • Bobby’s Robot

      I stopped worrying about relevance in a world where Kesha debuts at #1 on the charts. Give me REM and Pearl Jam any day.

    • Kevin

      Yeah, year after year Pearl Jam continues to be one of the most successful touring bands in the world and all of their albums end up on the top of the charts when they are released… they sure are irrelevant.

      • nodnarb

        So what. Tina Turner was one of the highest grossing tours last year. Doesn’t make her relevant. Pearl Jam is a nostalgia act.

      • Rich

        Pretty sure Tina Turner didn’t have a #2 single on the Billboard charts in 2009. Next….

  • Bobby’s Robot

    A new REM disc is always a happy thing.

  • S.O.

    R.E.M. can do whatever they want. They’ve achieved everything a band could do.

  • bob

    small note: REM always liked having guest stars on their albums. Anyone remember a little album called ‘out of time.’ I think it might have been succesful. KRS-one… that woman from the B-52’s…
    The amount of guest stars isn’t a worry. But it’s been a while since they put out something really great. Though I should mention “Up” is an underrated masterpiece.

    • nodnarb

      I’m not sure I’d use those examples to support having guests. “Shiny Happy People” and “Radio Song” may just be the 2 worst songs in REM’s catalog!

      • bob

        I would agree on Radio Song but “shiny happy people” is awesome. Seriously. Also, I think she appeared on some other songs on that album (songs that didn’t appear on Seasame street).

      • nodnarb

        Oh, you’re right! She sings on “Me in Honey” which is a great song.

  • Frank from MusicNerdClub.com

    I had heard initially that Collapse Into Now was going to be a throwback to earlier R.E.M. albums. Now I don’t know. I’m happy about Patti Smith and Eddie Vedder on there, makes sense. Peaches, not so much. Bottom line is this, regardless of guest appearances: if Collapse Into Now is as good as Accelerate or their 80’s-90’s albums (and Reveal is underrated), excellent; if it’s Around The Sun, Part II, it will be a total disaster.

    • JV

      I agree that Reveal is underrated. It definitely sets a relaxed, hazy mood, but it is great in that purpose.

  • Jon

    If Accelerate is to Monster, this album could be another New Adventures in Hi-Fi, which is my favorite of the more recent R.E.M. albums, and that’s a good thing.

  • LOL

    I hope this album contains several songs pointing out what hypocrites Republicans are.

  • Brian

    I’d actually put Patty on the Con and Vedder on the Pro list, but that’s just me.

  • whichonespink

    Accelerate was a good album, but I think a little more variety is a good thing for the new one. The way it is being described definitely sounds more like New Adventures in Hi-Fi than Around the Sun, which was all mid-tempo. Since I love New Advenures, I am excited about this album!

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  • summerturn

    1. REVEAL is a massively underappreciated high point
    2. Vedder is a natural fit. His path has mingled with that of R.E.M.’s for many years now and I’m really looking forward to it.
    3. I’d like to echo the point made by somebody above that having guests indicates something to be wary of. OUT OF TIME = end of silly discussion about too many guests.
    4. I’m SERIOUSLY looking forward to the release.

  • Nick Hart

    Are you an idiot? “snoozy ballads?” Are you even a true R.E.M. fan? Trying to knock R.E.M. for the amazing ballads they write is just plain stupid. This is going to be an amazing album and I can’t wait. I love Automatic so the fact that they’re putting out something similiar to that excites me. 2011 cannot come soon enough.

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