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'Collapse into Now,' R.E.M. 

Their best in ages.

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Collapse into Now is R.E.M.’s best recording in ages. Equal parts twanging folk balladry and excitable alternative rock, it’s the most nostalgic record in the band’s recent discography.

The album captures the sound that made them superstars — a sound that has aged incredibly well. Avoiding both the soul-achingly spiritless lows of albums like Reveal or Around the Sun, and the slightly over-compensated sugar rush of 2007’s Accelerate, R.E.M. treads on a middle ground.

The best tracks in the bunch are those that look back on the classic albums: “Mine Smell Like Honey” jangles triumphantly, recalling their college radio roots. “Oh My Heart” recalls the crooning, mandolin folk of their masterpiece, Automatic for the People.

“It’s just like me to overstay my welcome,” Stipe admits on the mission statement-like track “All the Best.”

Well, if you keep up the good work like this, you’ll always be welcome.

DOWNLOAD: “Mine Smell Like Honey”

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