R.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.
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