R.E.M.’s Monster was a true WTF album. Following the mega-success of the warm, elegant pop albums Out of Time (1991) and Automatic For the People (1992), this 1994 release hit fans like a bucket of cold water.
Steeped in grunge and drowning in reverb and feedback, Monster was the loudest and least pretty collection R.E.M. ever recorded. But listening to it 22 years later, it doesn’t seem all that scary.
Songs such as ‘Tongue,’ ‘I Don’t Sleep, I Dream,’ ‘Strange Currencies,’ ‘Bang and Blame’ and hit single ‘What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?’ wouldn’t necessarily feel out of place on one of the band’s earlier albums. Today’s track is a frenzied riff-heavy assault, but a fun one. And ‘Crush With Eyeliner’ remains one of the band’s very finest moments.
Funny how an album that felt like a metal band crashing a wedding in ’94 now feels sweetly nostalgic.
You don’t have to take the bar exam to see
What you’ve done is ignoramus 103
What have I got to hang my hat on
You don’t have a pot to pee in
All this just to be your friend
I was there until the end
Extortion and arson, petty larceny
I know you called, I know you called, I know you called
I know you called, I know you called, I know you hung up my line
I know all about the warehouse fire
I know squirrels didn’t chew the wires
3 people have my number
The other 2 were with me
I don’t like to tell-tell but I’m not your patsy
This time you have gone too far with me
Why’d you put your quarter down on me?
This reads like some dork inside edition hard copy
I can’t be your character witness
I can’t be your alibi
Doorbell rings it’s the FBI
We learned Spy vs. Spy
You, my friend, are guilty as can be