I can’t tell whether twitter in 2011 was already a mature network (or an incipient) but I do recall that the Matthew Perpetua article quickly went “viral” (as they say these days) with people from all walks of life (R.E.M. fans or not) replicating the story that the band would release the sixteenth album independently of the labels and very closely following the In Rainbows model.
We have the benefit of retrospective that time allows, so we can´t blame Mr. Perpetua, who is a genuine R.E.M. fan, for reaching a precipitated conclusion. After more than ten years I can’t remember how many days (or weeks) elapsed between the publication of the article and the announcement of the compilation, but I seem to recall that the compilation was announced in the same day (or even simultaneously) as the disbandment.
While the band’s breakup was terribly sad, the compilation at least offered a glimmer of hope and something to look forward to with excitement, but it definitely eliminated any chances of a 16th studio album.
I remember back in the day, of the many comments posted here, one in particular: that of the mythical “5 album cycle” implying that if a 16th album was indeed inminent, then consequently that would mean that a new 5-album run was guaranteed, at least into the 20th R.E.M. studio album.
I’d actually like to see a video release of the Collapse into now sessions that were filmed indoors in Berlin. Since the band would not tour, these represented the closest to a “live” rendition of the songs. We had no pandemic back then, but the band performing indoors with zero audience is pretty much what most artists kept doing these recent years.