Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Welcome the Ugly Animal

#4 - Monster - REM

As a long time REM fan, I must admit, this is a bold choice. It even surprised me. I own all of their albums from Murmur through Reveal and this one is my favorite? Yes, it is. I can finally admit it.

I owned Automatic first, but it was this one that made me a follower. I first heard it at a Young Life retreat. I remember the hotel lobby, the group of guys with "skater" cuts kicking around a hacky sack with this playing in the background. I had a huge crush on one of the guys and I bought this album to remind me of him.

I ended up loving it and went to see the infamous aneurysm tour in Hershey,PA. The show gave me mixed feelings. I was a hyper youth group Christian and Michael Stipe's first words on stage were "I am Satan." The video clips that played behind them were eerie. I specifically remember one of a teenage boy (who looked much like my crush) kissing his own hand over and over again. I thought, "Weird. I shouldn't like this." I turned away from Monster and bought all the other albums. These were much safer. I became a fan but this album fell by the wayside.

Years later, I feel I've come full circle. I still adore REM. I love all of their albums. This one is not the most musically impressive. The lyrics are enigmatic and down-right crass. But damn it if every song doesn't make you sing right along. If I'm going to pull one of their albums off the shelf today, chances are, its going to be this one. It opens with pop perfection in "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" and the intensity builds from there. The beautifully odd "Strange Currencies" and "Let Me In" provide points of respite in the midst of all the raunchy distortion. If Automatic for the People is their gem, Monster is their rock.

It still gives me a slightly uneasy feeling, like Michael Stipe is some dirty old man telling me all of his secrets. But I now know his past (and his future), so, when I listen, I understand that this is just a stage he is going through. This stage produced some amazing rock and now that I'm a grown-up, I can take it.


Big Cougar said...

I applaud this boldness. I think this might just send me into an REM tailspin..."on commmand."

Sean B said...

Right on - a way underrated record. Technically, I'd have to say that it is spotty, but the overall sound is so compelling, and about half of the songs, like, totally rule

Country Roads said...

Glad to see REM in the single digits!! I was thinking it might be coming at some point.

Sugar Mama said...

U.M. - Considering your blog persona and quote, I'm counting on them to be appearing soon.