Music tip: We All Go Back to Where We Belong

R.E.M.

Warner Bros.

In 1983, amid the clean lines and squeak of synth-pop, R.E.M. released "Murmur," a murky and strangely soulful guitar album. Then in 1991, as the sturm und drang of grunge was readying its radio roar, R.E.M., scored its biggest American hit with "Losing My Religion," a song without a conventional chorus and a mandolin as the lead instrument. The band - which split up in September - has released one final single ahead of a 40-song career retrospective that's in online and terrestrial stores on Tuesday. An act of defiance in the current fractured music landscape, "We All Go Back to Where We Belong," is a classic pop song, with Burt Bacharach-style horns over a bed of light jangle and sumptuous lyrics ("I can taste the ocean on your skin"). For fans of R.E.M. like I am, we've been here before, one last time.

- STEPHEN CHUPASKA

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