bu vs northeastern :: agganis arena, boston :: march 5, 2011
So, on Tuesday, R.E.M. released their new album “Collapse Into Now.”
They should have named it “Collapse Into Shit”.
I’m a HUGE R.E.M. fan. Have been my entire life.
Granted, there are some albums I’m not really into, but that happens with most of the bands I like. They can’t hit home runs every time they’re at bat, right? I could never really get into “Reveal”. I have a lot of problems with “Out of Time”. Even despite Peter Buck’s hatred of “Around the Sun”, there was a lot I liked about it.
But I’ve never downright HATED an R.E.M. album. Or really any bad album by any of my favorite bands.
This is a new feeling and I don’t like it.
To me, it sounds like a band picking and choosing the bits of R.E.M.‘s music they really like and piecing it together to make… something. It kind of sounds like a bad parody of an R.E.M. album. Or a new band desperately trying to capture their sound and failing miserably.
Honestly, I haven’t been able to listen to the album enough to go into as much detail as I’d like, but I can you this: Stipe lifts a line, practically WORD FOR WORD, from “Houston”. Then, there’s a riff in “Oh My Heart(?)” that reminds me of an IRS-era song. Possibly “S. Central Rain.” There’s bad acoustic stuff that kind of feels like “New Adventure in Hi-Fi”, down to bringing Patti Smith in on a song. (And seriously, WHAT THE FUCK is up with that spoken word disaster over her part?) They try to capture bits of “Monster” and “Reveal” and… well, it’s just not good.
As their career moves on, I still love the IRS stuff more than the Warner Bros., but that’s not to say that I don’t like the WB stuff. “Green”, “Accelerate”... good stuff. (Even though “Hollow Man” uses a riff that sounds like it could have come off “Fables” or “Pageant”.)
The thing that pisses me off the most is that for the last two albums, there are are these reviews saying, “This is the album that will bring them back into the mainstream / make them relevant again.” You know what? R.E.M. is not supposed to be RELEVANT. They’re not supposed to be MAINSTREAM. It’s not that I don’t wish them success - I do - but not at the cost of what I love about them. Stipe’s lyrics are supposed to be nonsensical, but he’s started telling stories and it’s changed the sound of the band. These new lyrics make sense. They’re clear, easy to understand. Bill Berry’s leaving changed the sound of the band, too, but they were able to overcome that. (Compare with Blues Traveler, who after the death of Brooklyn Bob, lost whatever it was that I loved about them.)
This album is so bad, it made me cry. I’ve had lots of music make me cry before, but that’s due to the memories it brings up. I’ve never cried out of heartbreak, out of anger, at AN ALBUM. It’s like they cheated on me, killed a kitten, and told me Santa wasn’t real all in the same 5 minutes.
I love you, R.E.M., so much it hurts. But you’ve betrayed me. I don’t know where this leaves us, but I think we need a break.