Much as I love R.E.M.’s music (especially Fables of the Reconstruction), it must be said the band was capable of breathtaking feats of navel-gazing self-indulgence. As if to prove my point, the now-defunct combo has issued two different versions of a video for their final single and the lead track from upcoming greatest hits set Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982-2011.
Both are studies in how to try the patience of your audience.
In each clip – for the song "We All Go Back Where We Belong" - Spider-Man and Melancholia actress Kirsten Dunst and poet and performance artist John Giorno basically… sit and make facial expressions that presumably hint at deeply felt existential revelations (Giorno) and sunshiney daydreams of unicorns and rainbows (Dunst) triggered by the dulcet tones of R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe.
I'm sorry but this concept felt old by the time Alanis Morissette filmed "Head Over Feet." By comparison, Morissette's video looks positively on fire. I seriously dare even the most hardcore R.E.M. fan to sit through the entire John Giorno clip. C’mon… I dare you.
The Athens-reared rockers last month announced they were calling it a day after umpteen (actually 31) years on the scene. "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," the trio wrote on its wesbsite.
Meanwhile, speaking to Britain’s MOJO Magazine, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills said he doesn’t anticipate Stipe pursuing a solo career. The bassist said: “I don't think that's [music] where his passion lies. I think he wants to be in the visual arts. I imagine Michael will do a lot of sculpture and photography. I think those are his big interests now.”
Mills added that R.E.M. is unlikely to ever share a stage together again in the future. However, the forthcoming retrospective will include three new tracks recorded after the release of recent album Collapse Into Now, including their above-mentioned final single “We All Go Back To Where We Belong.”