Well that’s what Rock Turtleneck is doing this year by naming R.E.M.’s Collapse into Now our 2011 Album of the Year. Was it the best album of 2011? Probably not. But then again there were no other clear winners in my book. (We'll discuss some runners-up later this week.)
And R.E.M.’s announcement on September 21st that they were breaking up felt like the end of an extended adolescence that began the first time I heard their song “1,000,000” on the Garden City, NY station WLIR.
They knew it was their last hurrah when they recorded it. In fact, Stipe has said that the picture on the cover is him waving goodbye to his fans. And he does the same thing lyrically in “All the Best”:
I'm in a part of your dreams
That you don't even understand
It's just like me to overstay my welcome man
Let's sing it and rhyme
Let's give it one more time
Let's show the kids how to do it fine, fine, fine, fine
It’s also an impressive rebound from 2004’s Around the Sun, one of the lamest records ever made by a major artist. In fact, the band said that the atrociousness of that record inspired them to go out on a strong note with Collapse and 2008's Accelerate.
Collapse Into Now begins and ends with “Discoverer,” which Stipe says is a reminiscence of discovering New York City when R.E.M. first started touring by van in the early 1980s. It turns out that this take at Hansa Studios in Berlin, where they recorded the record, is supposedly last performance they ever did together as a group. Maybe that's why they all clap at the end.
Buy R.E.M.’s Collapse Into Now on iTunes here.