Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

R.E.M.: Monster [Warner Bros., 1994]
Sick of dummies claiming they can't rock, the old Zepheads deliver the first power-riff album of their highly lyrical career. Peter Buck's sonic palette is rainbow grunge--variegated dirt and distortion as casual rhetoric--and he's so cranked even the slow ones seem born to be loud. As for Mr. Stipe, he's in the band, where he belongs. Message: guitars. Which after years of politics and sensitivity is well-timed. A-