By Rob Harvilla
Updated June 24, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT
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”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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