Back to REM... (and I'm over 30)
This is hard for me, because I'm an Athens boy. They are, of course, given God-like reverence in this town (and to their credit, they are still intensely active in social and charitable organizations in Athens, often with little or no fanfare.) It goes without saying that REM and their music played an integral part in my musical and social development.
But, yeah, they should have let it go after "Hi-Fi", which is a CD I still really enjoy. How awesome would it have been to end their career with the gorgeous "Electrolyte" and Stipe's a capella "I'm outta here..."?
Their problem now as I see it is simple - no hooks! The CDs (and I have them all, post "Hi-Fi") have a sameness to them, a mid-tempo, boring bland, hookless...blah to them. The songs are virtually indistinguishable from each other.
Having said that, though, they do have some nice singles from the post "Hi-Fi" era: "Daysleeper", "Leaving New York" and "Imitation of Life" immediately come to mind.
Barring, those, yeah, it's depressing to see thier lost quality and relevance. As I mentioned earlier, though, they will ALWAYS be heroes in Athens, not only for what they've done in the past, but how they continue to serve the town.