The three-legged dog years: All R.E.M.'s post-Bill Berry albums ranked

Follow the meanderings of the three-legged dog on their final five albums

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Collapse Into Now (2011)

There is a sense of finality to Collapse Into Now. Not many bands get to plan their last album, but Collapse Into Now was intended as their swansong all along. It's the first R.E.M. album with the band on the cover, and look a that, Michael Stipe is waving goodbye.

Collapse Into Now commits the cardinal sin of new albums by old bands, featuring songs that sound too much like older, better songs, reminding us of better albums. There's a song that sounds like "Half A World Away," one that sounds like "Finest Worksong," and even one that sounds like "E-Bow The Letter," and "Country Feedback," R.E.M.'s two best songs played at the same time.

This self-plagiarism was shown in a new light when R.E.M. announced that they were disbanding six months after the release of Collapse Into Now, they were not fumbling around trying to recapture better days, as some had assumed, they were looking back wistfully, and giving fans a new kind of retrospective. When R.E.M. was no more, Collapse Into Now began to feel like a homage to their past.

Artists tend to either look backward, repeating the same stuff over and over again, or look forward, refusing to acknowledge their past. Those in the latter category tend to alienate fans, as we unashamedly love the older stuff. By honouring the past, R.E.M. honours the fans who made these strange poetic dorks into global superstars.

As a parting gift to fans, Collapse Into Now is the most cohesive album on this list, despite being the most varied and diverse.

Best lyric:

With just the slightest bit of finesse
I might have made a little less mess
But it was what it was
Lets all get on with it now

From "Discoverer"