With 2008â€™s Accelerate, alternative innovators R.E.M. proved that they were just as capable of being in-your-face with fresh, sharp music. Teaming up again with superstar producer Jacknife Lee, theyâ€™ve taken a step forward and one slightly to the left with Collapse Into Now. This record has all the confidence of their last album while incorporating portions of R.E.M.â€™s past and future. Peter Buck has brought back his mandolin, but that doesnâ€™t mean he shuns the jangly guitar parts for which he is so well known. Mike Millsâ€™ backing vocals are as exuberant as ever, and Michael Stipeâ€™s delivery and writing are more precise than theyâ€™ve ever been.
If new material from one of the most famous and productive bands in rock isnâ€™t enough, Collapse Into Now is littered with guest appearances. Frequent collaborator Scott McCaughey plays a prominent role in the New Orleans-inspired ballad â€œOh My Heart,â€ while the outlandish and delightful Peaches lends her voice to the upbeat â€œAlligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter.â€ Eddie Vedderâ€™s distinctive growl can be heard on â€œIt Happened Today,â€ and the godmother of punk Patti Smith appears on â€œDiscovererâ€ and â€œBlue.â€ Thereâ€™s much to say about the quality, energy, and poetry contained in the brevity that is Collapse Into Now, but Stipe puts it best: â€œLetâ€™s show the kids how to do it fine fine, fine.â€