After forming way back in 1980 when Michael Stipe met guitarist Peter Buck in an Athens record shop where Buck worked R.E.M. have risen from college rockers to stadium fillers, and along the way released fifteen studio albums. This retrospective album, Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982 – 2011, takes a look at the best of each these offerings, from the bands early IRS years to three new releases, forming a songscape filled with beautiful lyrics, unique harmonies and endless quality.
Nothing here disappoints in an album packed with nothing but songs from a band who have carved their own space in musical history whilst maintaining an air of indie cool and artistic merit. Their subtle transformation from post-punk era rockers to Automatic For The People world conquerors is handily chronologically played out over forty songs leaving an impressive trail of influence behind. Not a single track stalls or falters, which in itself is impressive given the scale of the album, and demonstrates just how much of worth has been put to record, safe for generations to discover even now the wheels have come off the R.E.M. machine.
It is a definitive look at a band who have helped form the sounds of the likes of Radiohead and Sonic Youth, their energy and abilities transforming the musical landscape over decades. Everything any fan would expect is here, from their first release 'Radio Free Europe' to the award winning 'Losing My Religion', each track as brilliant as the next and consistently providing a reminder of just how often R.E.M. managed to have their critics proclaim them to have found their form time and again. The omission of 'Near Wild Heaven', a personal favourite, is the only criticism I can throw at this collection, and it is hardly the biggest of drawbacks.
'Part Lies...' is a band looking back on their finest achievements and bringing their work back into the spotlight once more before they walk off into the sunset. This album is a benchmark, like many other greatest hits of some of the most acclaimed bands in music, to future musicians on which to measure themselves against. It would seem not many will match up to such a legacy.