Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Not So Shiny Happy People
"Collapse Into Now," the new release from R.E.M., sounds good. It has a strong opener, and for the next 5-6 songs that follow, the band appears to have found a bit of the magic that seemed to vanish over the last 15 years. I felt the same about their 2008 release "Accelerate," yet I haven't gone back to that album once since then, and my feeling is, I'm not going to go back to "Collapse Into Now."
I have a theory.
It seems most critics cite 1992's "Automatic For The People" as the last truly great record from R.E.M.. I agree wholeheartedly. Since then, the band has released 5 mediocre to downright lousy records, each with a gem or two. So, my last happy memory of R.E.M. is about 20 years old. Someone is stuck in time, and I'm not sure if it's me or the band. They now seem like a nostalgia act.
I knew a guy who thought Meatloaf's "Bat Out Of Hell 2" was his first release since "Bat Out Of Hell," not realizing there were 4 albums in between. I say this because, that's how I feel about R.E.M. these days. I remember so little of their output since 1994, "Collapse Into Now" is like a comeback. Yet they never went away.
I hear R.E.M. now, and no matter how close they come to cohesion, no matter how much they sound like the great band they were from 1981-1992, they've poisoned the well, and all I hear is a band clutching at straws to regain their popularity. Their sound immediately takes me back to 1992, the way hearing "Axel F," Harold Faltermeyer's huge hit from "Beverly Hills Cop" immediately brings me back to the 80s. R.E.M. were of a time and that time is long gone.