Michael Stipe sings "oh my heart, oh my heart", the refrain in the song of the same name on R.E.M.'s new album "Collapse Into Now". His voice rises to each note, precise, pleading and full of emotion. His vocal delivery has a new simplicity and brilliance that sets the tone for the whole record. "It's sweet and it's sad and it's true, how it doesn't look bitter on you." Here is R.E.M. 2011, 30 years in.
On this, their 15th album, the band takes stock of itself. Older, wiser, still searching, and relaxing into their emerging sound. Evidently, Patti Smith, a friend and collaborator on this and 1996's "New Adventures in Hi-Fi", suggested the title of the album. Nice. Long time Patti Smith guitar player Lenny Kaye, Eddie Vedder and Peaches make appearances. Jackknife Lee, the producer of R.E.M.'s last record, "Accelerate" returns to produce. The band has no plans to tour in support of the album, citing tour fatigue. "I just don't want to," says Michael Stipe.