20 Songs, 1 Hour 5 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If, as more than one musical sage has opined, rock and roll is but a bittersweet loser's game, it's small wonder Minneapolis' beloved 'Mats remain virtual patron saints to a generation. While this 20-track overview can't possibly explore the full range of their often besotted musical glories, it nonetheless focuses their star-crossed career into something akin to riveting three-act drama. If early tracks like "Shiftless When Idle" display a penchant for energetic thrash that wasn't so different from many other early '80s punk-powered punters, they make the subsequent emergence of Paul Westerberg's songwriting talents all the more profound, as "Color Me Impressed" and "Within Your Reach" ably attest. In short order the band would produce one of the 80's most compelling rock albums with Let It Be, an effort that yielded a genuine alt.rock theme song with "Unsatisfied." Westerberg's muse continued to channel a generation's disaffection with insouciant, shaggy wit via Tim's bona fide anthems "Bastards of Young" and "Here Comes a Regular," while "Left of the Dial" bemoans the twilight of a hallowed commercial radio era the band seems hell-bent to improve. Even as they were falling apart the Mats yielded quirky delights like "Skyway" and "Alex Chilton" and showcased their dour pop-smarts on "I'll Be You" and the infectious "Merry Go-Round." The survivors offer up the album's undeniably nostalgic, yet satisfyingly stubbly new reunion recordings "Message to the Boys" and "Pool and Dive," a coda rife with a typically Westerberg-ian mix of melancholy and hope.

EDITORS’ NOTES

If, as more than one musical sage has opined, rock and roll is but a bittersweet loser's game, it's small wonder Minneapolis' beloved 'Mats remain virtual patron saints to a generation. While this 20-track overview can't possibly explore the full range of their often besotted musical glories, it nonetheless focuses their star-crossed career into something akin to riveting three-act drama. If early tracks like "Shiftless When Idle" display a penchant for energetic thrash that wasn't so different from many other early '80s punk-powered punters, they make the subsequent emergence of Paul Westerberg's songwriting talents all the more profound, as "Color Me Impressed" and "Within Your Reach" ably attest. In short order the band would produce one of the 80's most compelling rock albums with Let It Be, an effort that yielded a genuine alt.rock theme song with "Unsatisfied." Westerberg's muse continued to channel a generation's disaffection with insouciant, shaggy wit via Tim's bona fide anthems "Bastards of Young" and "Here Comes a Regular," while "Left of the Dial" bemoans the twilight of a hallowed commercial radio era the band seems hell-bent to improve. Even as they were falling apart the Mats yielded quirky delights like "Skyway" and "Alex Chilton" and showcased their dour pop-smarts on "I'll Be You" and the infectious "Merry Go-Round." The survivors offer up the album's undeniably nostalgic, yet satisfyingly stubbly new reunion recordings "Message to the Boys" and "Pool and Dive," a coda rife with a typically Westerberg-ian mix of melancholy and hope.

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