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REM? Never again says Michael Stipe

Never say never again is the usual rule that applies when bands split up. Invariably there comes a day when a sufficiently huge cheque... sorry, the artistic muse returns and they get the old crew back on the road again. Just ask The Stone Roses.

In the case of REM though, this might turn out to be one band split that is final. The members announced the end of REM in September, after 31 years in which they went through the stages of inspiration, genius, commercial breakthrough, career consolidation, decline and ultimate mediocrity.

They confirmed the permanence of the break-up not on some trivial pop website but in the authoritative realm of the BBC’s Newsnight. Cynical presenter Gavin Esler pressed them on when they would be getting back together, and when REM would tour again.

"It won't. It's done," Michael Stipe replied succinctly. "It’s bittersweet, but it's strangely liberating," he added, with bass player Mike Mills concurring. Mills used the word "liberating" too, implying that, for the last few years, REM has been something of a gilded cage.

REM fans can console themselves, in between desolate sobs, with the band’s farewell single. Despite the title, We All Go Back To Where We Belong is not a return to the urgent, thrilling music of their origins, but rather a soporific, if pleasant, tune which finds Stipe dreaming about being an elephant. The video features Hollywood star Kirsten Dunst looking embarrassed, amused and eventually rather fed-up.

That split? Right decision guys.

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