Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage
Nov 30, 2011 Web Exclusive
Four guys in Athens, Georgia start a band. They play shows, get signed to a local label, work their way up the college rock ranks, get signed to a major, become rock stars, implode, and (mostly) recover.
This excellent best-of tells this story, and it accurately conveys R.E.M.'s gradual evolution. Though their sonic shifts seemed big at the time, Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, the band's first-ever career-spanning retrospective, proves that R.E.M. broadened their sound slowly over the years. This is a portrait of maturation, a chronicle of growth with arguably few missteps.
The hits you know are here: "So. Central Rain," "Fall On Me," "Man on the Moon," "Losing My Religion." As with any compilation, the track list is imperfect—"Get Up" but no "Daysleeper"?—but R.E.M. was never about perfection. (Part Garbage likely refers to "Shiny Happy People" and "Stand," two hit singles the band has all but disowned.) Instead, R.E.M. was a band with a staunchly creative work ethic, constantly changing parts—electric guitars, mandolins, distortion pedals-while maintaining expertly crafted songs.
Part Lies will likely be remembered as the record that contained R.E.M.'s three final songs. Two of these songs, the embarrassingly simplistic rocker "A Month of Saturdays" and the dull "Hallelujah," are misfires. However, their last single, "We All Go Back to Where We Belong," is a sweet, subtle song about endings. Its refrain, a classic R.E.M. chorus, builds to an emotional crest before letting you down gently. It's an elegy about starts and finishes; it's a lament and a celebration; it's a tangle of contradictions. In other words, it's R.E.M. and they will be missed. (www.remhq.com)
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Average reader rating: 9/10