Truly Madly Deeply: The Best Of Savage Garden, by Savage Garden
Someday there will be a good documentary on this late and lamented Australian duo and we will find out the story of why it is that they flamed out so spectacularly after creating two successful and gorgeous albums of synth-pop that combined sold more than ten million copies in the United States and many copies around the world. I do not know of such a documentary yet, though, so in the meantime like many people who enjoyed the music of this group there remain the two albums they put out and compilations like this one which seek to provide listeners with music that they may be unfamiliar with combined with music that is appreciated. This particular album is seventeen tracks long, and the first ten tracks are likely to be familiar with most of the people who buy the album, being mostly singles from the two albums the group put out in the late 90’s and early 2000’s before breaking up. Given the fact that the audience is likely to be familiar with most of the content here, is it a worthwhile album to listen to anyway? Let’s find out.
This album can be divided into three sections. The first section is made up of ten songs that were mostly released as singles by Savage Garden from their two albums. These tracks are, as one would expect, quite good. While not every excellent song from the first two albums are included, most of the best of the band can be found here, including #1 hits “Truly, Madly, Deeply” and “I Knew I Loved You,” other hits that I like far more like “I Want You,” “Affirmation,” “To The Moon And Back,” “Hold Me,” “Crash And Burn,” and “The Animal Song” as well as “Santa Monica” and “Break Me, Shake Me,” which are excellent album cuts. Most fans of this band will know and enjoy these songs from the outset and they set the tone for expectations for the rest of the songs. After these familiar songs come two loosies from Darren Hayes, “So Beautiful” and “California.” The first is a sappy love ballad that I didn’t really enjoy but “California” has some more nuance and the sort of instrumentation I enjoy as well as some genuinely poignant lyrics about being together alone with someone. After this come five songs that were b-sides on singles by the group. These songs are definitely lesser material compared to the band’s material and don’t really rise above the level of album filler, but as Savage Garden album filler that is still pretty good. Of the five, “I’ll Bet He Was Cool” epically misunderstands Jesus Christ and His mission on earth and “Fire Inside The Man” is a really touching tribute to the importance of women in the lives of Darren Hayes, and the rest are repetitive but at least melodic and tuneful.
Overall, then, this collection is a bit of a mixed bag. Since we are apparently not going to get a Savage Garden reunion given the fact that one of the members of the duo has entirely retired from the music industry and is apparently not even on speaking terms with the other, we have to take what we can get. And what we have here is a reminder of the duo’s excellence in music and the fact that they could have made so much great music if they had been able to work together. The band also had good judgment on what songs were fit for albums and what songs could be b-sides on their singles. This album is a worthy addition to one’s collection if you want to hear a couple of decent to good Darren Hayes songs and some obscure tracks from a group that you like. Non-fans of the group may wonder what the fuss is all about but if you liked the band’s material this is certainly well worth listening to.