Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

Nevermind changed everything in the music industry and not just Nirvana’s fortunes. Prior to this, the music scene internationally was comatose after a rather ordinary decade in music making during the 1980s. There seemed little hope or good in most modern music of the day, until Kurt Cobain and Nirvana unleashed this album onto the music scene way back in 1991.

Ironically, none of the people in Nirvana’s circle expected the album to be a hit. It has a punk like feel to it, and began the early 1990s Grunge scene which had many people follow suit in the screaming vocals, quiet/loud dynamics and overall dark feel of the record. It’s still largely influential and popular today. It features drummer and superstar Dave Grohl as a new addition to the band, who would stay until the band was finished. The album title may be a direct reference to Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. The group had a great sense of musical history.

The first song, Smells Like Teen Spirit is a great pop song. It was the biggest song off the album and refers to youthful angst. It’s just awesome and has a bipolar feel to it. It’s an interesting rumour than Kurt Cobain, the singer/songwriter, and guitarist may have had bipolar himself. Despite that, it’s a great five-minute pop piece.

The next track In Bloom is obviously satire. It tells a nonsensical story, before leaping into a whirlwind of drum rolls and the chorus is uplifting. The drummer Dave Grohl does a top job here and is, in general, an underrated drummer and musician to boot. Go figure.

Come As You Are is an openly honest song about appreciating the company of others and friendship. It’s a really great song, with Kurt Cobain professing: “I swear that I don’t have a gun.” A classic.

Breed follows and is a great example of stop/start dynamics in a song. It’s fast, furious and brutal. Nirvana was excellent at these song structures, it’s a great piece.

The following track, Lithium is a very dark song with some rather deeply disturbing lyrics in it. It’s really good but messed up on a psychological level. A great Nirvana song nonetheless. Some nice guitar work is here.

The rape story Polly follows and it’s a very intense listen. It’s deeply dark and acoustic driven, leading to the overall twisted ambiance on this song.

Territorial Pissings comes next and it is difficult to transcribe the meaning of this song. It’s a punk like assault and is good listening for that reason.

Drain You follows, and as it suggests, is about baby love. It’s a twisted tale, complete with baby dummies being squeaked. It’s humourous and hard-hitting simultaneously.

The follow-up Lounge Act isn’t very memorable or special sounding. But the chorus is very catchy, so it’s not all bad.

The song next that is Stay Away is a pacing and energetic fun-filled pop song. Although Kurt Cobain meant serious business when it came to music, Nevermind does have its fun and lighter moments. Good listening, “Monkey see, monkey do.” indeed.

On A Plain has more twisted lyrics but with a much more chilled setting sound wise. It’s mellow enough to be appreciated and is a nice departure from most of the songs on the album in that respect. Nirvana was a band of variety.

Something In The Way is very close to the bone. We hear Kurt strum along acoustically and tell a story about sleeping rough, complete with cello accompaniment. Kurt Cobain, prior to becoming famous, did not have a very easy time growing up. Additionally, there is on some versions of the album the rather unnecessary Endless, Nameless is included as a hidden track after the main album. The hidden track is in no way special.

This album is very important in the history of rock music. It has inspired many bands after it to follow a similar route. Grunge was directly inspired by Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. This album made the group superstars until Cobain’s suicide in early 1994. It’s best to remember them by this record, a great mixture of pop sensibilities and quiet/loud slow/fast dynamics. It’s a little disturbing, yet really very good.

8/10

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