Are R.E.M. Out of Time?

Boy the reviews have been all over the place for the new R.E.M. best of collection In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (Special Edition). All I have been reading are either “R.E.M. are such a great bunch of guys and boy are they ever wonderful and they get along so great and they’re re-energized, etc.” kind of fluff to “That’s it, they’re dead. Releasing a Greatest Hits means that R.E.M. have zero left to say and they should have hung up their guitars when Bill Berry retired. Plus Bad Day just sounds like It’s The End of the World As We Know It” type of complaining (a good sampling of reviews can be found at the excellent R.E.M. fan site Murmurs). I think that the reality lies somewhere in the middle. Peter Buck and the boys are currently in the midst of writing a new album so I don’t think that they are out of ideas yet but I just think that the loss of Bill Berry was a more severe blow musically and socially than they are willing to admit. I like Bad Day and Animal and now I don’t have to buy that crappy Vanilla Sky soundtrack so for me In Time is a good buy but it is sad to see all the bad press surrounding the band. Quite frankly I am happy to see them being a little less “popular” so that hopefully they will do a small theater tour in the near future and that would be worth all the pitiful sales they have been experiencing in North America. And I want to see Peter Buck up close do his scissor kicks again. The best since Pete Townsend.