Review: R.E.M., ‘Part Lies, Part Heart’

Review: R.E.M., ‘Part Lies, Part Heart’: Aidin Vaziri | R.E.M.: They started out as the greatest American rock band of their time and then things went steadily downhill for some 30 years until they finally went out with whatever is quieter than a whimper. Now here’s the chronologically ordered evidence in a convenient two-disc set. It’s convenient because you can discard the second disc the minute you unwrap the thing. It kicks off with the group’s best-known song (“Everybody Hurts”), followed by at least a dozen the band probably doesn’t even remember recording. There are three new ones tacked on at the end but that’s probably where the “Part Garbage” thing comes from in the title. Although, at a push “We All Go Back to Where We Belong” would make a nice soundtrack for a VW commercial. The first half of this set, meanwhile, is mostly wonderful. It traces the trajectory of the classic I.R.S. Records years from the jingle-jangle punk of “Gardening at Night” through the heartbreaking “So. Central Rain” all the way up to the mad apocalypse anthem “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” But then it quickly peters out in a pileup of Warner Bros.-endorsed material that includes “Stand,” “Pop Song 89” and “Shiny Happy People.” R.I.P.

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