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The 15th studio album from R.E.M. finds the band at turns combative and mellow. The opening song, “Discoverer,” could have been a bonus track on “Accelerate.” It’s all hard-driving guitars and that classic Michael Stipe growl.

With 10 of the dozen tracks under four minutes, “All The Best” follows quickly with a challenge to the younger generation: “I think I’ll sing in a rhyme/ I’ll give it one more time/ I’ll show the kids how to do it fine, fine, fine.”

The album then hits its stride with a quartet of contemplative songs: “Uberlin,” “Oh My Heart,” “It Happened Today” and “Every Day is Yours to Win.” This is the R.E.M. mainstream audiences love. Lead singer Stipe’s lyrics are sung like poetry over the top of Peter Buck’s simple chords. The biggest misfire is the final track, “Blue.” Patti Smith’s guest vocal is mostly lost amid Stipe’s monotone reading of a poem.

R.E.M. “Collapse into Now”

Label: Warner Bros.
Genre: Alternative rock

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