It’s nothing more than a short, direct statement on their website, along with a band photo:

“To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.” R.E.M.

Is it some kind of weird Kaufman-esque stunt? A temporary spat? Arthritis?

It seems likely that today marks the end of one of the most important, creative, innovative, and (in this humble writer’s opinion) brilliant bands of the past fifty years. Pish-posh with your “Oh, I stopped being into them when they stopped being good” bullshit, because they were always good, often great, occasionally transcendent. And now it’s over.