Originally Posted by BroncoBuff
And Beard and Hogan, I've always though Monster was the Apex of REM's work - and there's not a cello on it. 'Tongue' - on Monster - is my favorite example of perfect blue-eyed soul. Hall & Oates, eat yer hearts out.
Monster is like them trying to play rock again after slipping too far into AOR, "chamber music" with the successes of Out Of Time and (the overrated) Automatic For The People....as a result, it's mostly club-footed and a lot of it is awkward sounding to me, if not even a little insincere (like they were trying to keep up with grunge or something....the whole record feels like it was done half-hearted). Like all R.E.M. records though, it does have it's gems..."Strange Currencies" especially.
For me, the band's highlight was Reckoning...a personal fave. It's a beautiful piece of jangle pop that's totally solid from top to bottom. Actually, they ruled the world from Murmer to Fables Of The Reconstruction IMHO. You don't encounter any throwaways from this band till their fouth album in (Life's Rich Pagent). Pagent is where the band's sound starts going towards the big, bloated, arena sound that's so cliched of the 80's now. Document was a bit of a breakout sure, but by bringing Stipe's vocals out to the forfront (where you can actually hear what he was saying) what seemed commercially viable at the time ended up further robbing a lot of the music of it's mystery. When Stipe's poetic scat tracks fully disappear for good (The last of which are on New Adventures in Hi-Fi) and Berry left for health reasons (it appears a lot of the fire left with him...judging by subsequent releases anyway). they finally reached the nadir. They became ladened with fake strings, orchestration, synths to mostly slow tempos.........it has made them boring
I loved the band, still do to some extent....but I really think it's time to hang it up. I can't see them returning to form now. It's over.