#30 on the 2011 Musical Bacon Calendar
Collapse Into Now by R.E.M.
This year saw the end of one of rock’s greatest bands. When R.E.M. first came together in 1980, indie rock was yet to be a “thing.” Along the same lines as more recent bands like Death Cab for Cutie or the Decemberists, R.E.M. started in rather lo-fi beginnings, and slowly transformed into the grandiose, stadium-draw rock legends they are today.
Or rather, were yesterday. Because R.E.M. is no more. They announced their breakup back in September, six months after the release of their final studio album, Collapse Into Now. Every new album from R.E.M. hints at albums past, which is part of the reason their new stuff never seems to hold up as well as Document or Life’s Rich Pageant. Why would the remake sound as good as the original? But I love newer R.E.M. every bit as much as older R.E.M. So much so that I hold their 1996 album New Adventures in Hi-Fi up as the quintessential R.E.M. album. (If you haven’t yet heard it, stop reading and do so, NOW.)
It’s too early to tell how Collapse Into Now will stand within the R.E.M. catalog. But when comparing it to other, non-R.E.M. albums from the past year, it’s definitely one of the best. You can hear most of the songs from the album via YouTube, where the band has posted a music video for 10 of the 12 songs. But I recommend picking up the album. Too much of music listening today is about the single, that one song. But enjoying a full album is an experience that no one should go without, and this album is a perfect place to start.