07/03/2011 was the release day of 15th REM’s cd Collapse Into Now (Warner music, 2011), an album that goes further in the same path designed by the 2008’s Accelerate.
A path that took the three-men band from Athens, Georgia to a more aggressive and angry sound than their previous works.
The length of the 12 tracks (all about 3 minutes) and their strength may give the impression of more superficial contents, but it’s all the other way around. The usual attention given to the lyrics by Michael Stipe & co. becomes clear listening to songs like the first hit single Überlin or Oh My Heart which is a literary follow up of Accelerate’s Houston, even if Mike Mills, the band’s bassist, stated that “it’s more a personal record than a political one”.
Through the years Stipe’s writing style became more and more elliptical but that didn’t stop REM’s raise to stardom. Observer’s Sean O’Hagan, in a recent interview with the band’s singer Michael Stipe, asked him about his looks-to-be simplicity in writing sophisticated songs appreciated by the masses. He answered saying “There’s some truth in that. I’ve learnt to have fun fucking around with the medium. And the pop song is such a great medium to fuck around with. But it took a while.”
The album also features, amongst others, the two precious participations of a couple of REM’s old friends as Pearl Jam’s front-man Eddie Vedder – backing vocals in All The Best – and Stipe’s personal friend and rock icon Patti Smith – Discoverer and Blue – who opens and closes the circle of this Collapse Into Now.