Like Moby's Play, Monster should be an album anyone who lived through the '90s ought to be familiar with. The difference, however, is that while Play marked Moby's commercial, and arguably, creative peak, Monster was viewed as R.E.M.'s bloated, over-produced, major label concession record after building up a decade of goodwill that peaked with their previous effort, Automatic for the People.
While the record sold extremely well, a cursory glance at the discount bin at any used CD store reveals that not a lot of people held onto those copies. Still, maybe it's the creative disappointment of the band's final decade or so together, but the album has aged incredibly well. The band's transition from sensitive campus radio stars to glammed '90s alt-rockers sounds far less jarring now than in 1995. More importantly, beyond the guitar effects and processed vocals, the songwriting was still topnotch and wouldn't fall off for another couple records (if you haven't checked out New Adventures in Hi-Fi recently, it too sounds far better today than it did 15 years ago). The band managed to squeeze five singles off the record, including the "Everybody Hurts" aping "Strange Currencies," which actual stands strong in its own right today.
The subsequent tour in support of Monster almost killed drummer Bill Berry, who suffered a brain aneurysm on stage. He'd leave the band a few years later, a move now seen as the beginning of the end for the group. In that regard, Monster can be seen as the band's last big inhale before its drawn-out final breath.
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