June 24, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

Collapse Into Now

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
R.E.M.
music label
Warner Bros.
genre
Rock

”It’s just like me to overstay my welcome,” barks Michael Stipe, daring listeners to agree. Late-period R.E.M. often lacks the fire and finesse of their college-rock classics, but Collapse Into Now‘s sharp power-pop blasts get it half right. Stipe’s cornball lyrics still rankle, but when the acoustic lilt of ”It Happened Today” melts into a sweet, wordless coda powered by Mike Mills’ epic harmonies, it’s a welcome reminder, and a pleasant surprise. B

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