R.E.M. followed Automatic for the People with the grunge and feedback overload of Monster, the most love-it-or-hate-it album in their catalog.
I fall into the “love” category, though I do lose patience for a couple of songs toward the end of the album. But the first ten songs are twisted and glorious, none more so than ‘Crush With Eyeliner.’
I don’t know exactly what the song is about, just that it’s a warped love song. I’ve read suggestions that it’s either about a transvestite or Courtney Love (I should insert a transvestite/Courtney Love joke here, but I can’t think of one that won’t be offensive to transvestites).
What I love best about this song — apart from the heavy reverb and growling vocals — is how thoroughly it sounds like R.E.M. while sounding nothing at all like anything they’d recorded previously. R.E.M. has sometimes lost their way over the years, but here’s an example of them going out on a limb with glorious results.