"My POINT is, this is probably the best reviewed record from the band since Hi-Fi. I started Murmurs before Hi-Fi's release (April of 1996), so still have the catalog of reviews from way back then somewhere."- Ethan Kaplan
I think the point speaks for itself however, that it isn't the best, and yes I agree with you that a 2 - 5 point difference is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. A better statement would be that "Collapse into Now's review are comparable with those of Accelerate and Reveal". But for a band that has been trying to find itself for the last decade, that is not much of a storyline.
For what it's worth you can look at the glass half full and say that the critics have criticized the band but at the same time you can say the opposite that this is a "Return to Form" or "Stipe never sounded better".
Read the cliche remarks made for both Accelearate
and Collapse into Now
I think that the only review that really makes a difference is Pitchfork's review because they do have the power to sway the youth. And yes, you can say that it's review of Collapse is the best studio album of the 21st Century beating out Accelerate by a tenth of a point. But 6.8 is not 8.6.
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