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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Nirvana- Nevermind

Source: Wikipedia

Album:  Nevermind

Artist:  Nirvana

Year: 1991

Score:  94/100

“A Classic, but Nirvana Can Do Better”

Nirvana… my guiltiest of guilty pleasure bands, the only pop band that I listen to consistently.  They are hated deeply by most other metalheads, and even some rockers.  Yet they’re considered legendary by the vast majority of rock fans and music critics.  No other Nirvana album is as recognized as “Nevermind”.  While I think that its praise is certainly justified, I do feel that the band has released much better material.

Instrumentally, the album is quite simplistic.  There are no true displays of technical prowess to be found.  The songs are quite easy to follow and they do have a structure very reminiscent of pop music.  
Nevertheless, the album is a shining gem in the songwriting department.  The riffs are generally quite memorable and nothing showcases this better than the hit song, “Smells like Teen Spirit”.  The song is a classic and even after hearing every Nirvana song out there, it’s one of my favorite up there with “Blew” and “Pen Cap Chew”.  I for one can’t understand the criticism the song gets, both from fans of the band and from people who hate Nirvana.  It’s just simply a great song; impossible for me not to like.  The songs have a certain charm about them that’s tough to explain.  It’s almost like there’s a happy vibe to the songs, which is ironic considering the history of the band and some of the lyrical content.

There’s a lot of pop sensibility in the songs, particularly in the latter half of the album.  These guys knew how to make a catchy song without sacrificing the hard rock edge that made “Bleach” one of my all time favorite albums.  Kurt Cobain’s unmistakable voice is easily the highlight of the individual performers, and the diversity of his vocals is actually pretty impressive.  He mumbles, screams, and sings his way through the twelve songs on the release.  Dave Grohl’s drums are decent, and they’ve always stood out to me.  He didn’t do anything impressive in a technical sense, but his drumwork is fantastic anyway.  Also notable is the soft/heavy/soft dynamic found in the songs.  Other bands invented it, but Nirvana perfected it.  This particular dynamic really adds diversity and strength to the album as a whole and to the songs themselves.

The negatives of the album lie in the ballads “Polly” and “Something in the Way”.  I’ve always found these songs to be unremarkable and boring (and completely overrated).  There is also a certain amount of poppiness to the album, which hinders the experience just a little bit.  The whole thing is actually quite smooth and tame sounding, with very little rawness.  As someone who is into much more intense forms of music, I generally enjoy a rawer production job and a little more structural variation.  The lack of complexity should also be noted, as instrumental skill is important but not always necessary to my enjoyment of an album.

I generally prefer the heavier, non ballad songs to the songs that are ballads.  I’ve already mentioned “Smells like Teen Spirit”, but I’ll say it again:  this is one of my favorite songs.  “In Bloom” is also notable, as it contains one of the best Nirvana choruses out there.  “Breed” is incredible too; it’s fuzzy and grungy throughout.  The bass is nice and loud during this one and its refreshing coming after “Come as You Are”.  Speaking of “Come as You Are”, it’s one of the better slow songs from Nirvana.  I particularly love the chorus effect on the guitar.  “Lithium” is also good, but it’s a little overrated.  I like the heavier part towards the middle of the song.  “Drain You” and “Territorial Pissings” are two more favorites.  The former cloaks its poppiness with heavy guitars, and the latter is a short burst of punky angst that always serves its purpose well.  “On a Plain” and “Lounge Act” are two of the most underrated songs on the album.  I personally prefer “Lounge Act”, and as I’m writing this I can’t think of why it’s a better song (they’re kind of similar songs, to be honest).

Is “Nevermind” a classic album?  Yes, it is.  I recommend a listen to anyone who is into rock.  Most people have already heard it, though.  I like both “Bleach” and “In Utero” more than this, though “In Utero” is only slightly better.  On a different not, I really enjoy the remastered version that came out in 2011.  It’s worth replacing an old copy of the CD, as it also comes with bonus tracks. Most of these bonus tracks are found on “With the Lights Out”, but the new live and demo performances of some of the songs make the new package worthwhile.  I actually like the demo version of “Lithium” more than the version on “Nevermind”, and it’s rare for me to say that.  All in all, “Nevermind” is a classic album well worth anyone’s time and money.  Fans of pop, rock, and even punk should find something to enjoy on “Nevermind”.  I certainly did, and I never thought I would ever like Nirvana.

Best songs:  “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “In Bloom”, “Breed”, “Lithium”, “Territorial Pissings”, “Lounge Act”, and “Drain You”.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment and share your opinion!

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