Nirvana had to begin somewhere with their musical career. Although Dave Grohl was not part of Nirvana at this point, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic were both in the band at the same time, having only begun gigging for 18 months or so when this was released. At the time, the group had Chad Channing as their drummer and Nirvana dabbled in second guitarists, which meant that the band themselves were struggling to find their musical identity at that point. Nonetheless, this album, their first, was released back in 1989. Although it did not even chart at the time (it did later on after Nevermind was released), this album is worth hearing from a historical perspective. Let’s do just that and hear where this music takes us.
Blew begins with a deep bassline, followed quickly by some decent guitars and gnarly singing from Kurt Cobain. This song and album probably aren’t Nevermind territory in terms of overall song quality. However having said, this is very good. Kurt Cobain sings in an aggressive and wonderful way, and it is obvious from the start of this album that he is the main focus of Nirvana here. Nonetheless an excellent, energetic and heavy tune, with an out there guitar solo. Wonderful tunes are here, and this tune itself is very awesome and lively. The outro is fairly repetitive, but it is followed by massive drum rolls. An okay start to the album.
Floyd The Barber may refer to Pink Floyd in the title but is completely different musically from the Psychedelic/Progressive Rock of Pink Floyd. This is actually really awful music in this song, proving the fact that Nirvana hadn’t really hit their musical focus point by this time. It is Grunge, but horrendous Grunge Rock music. If you can, do skip this tune, you’ll thank yourself for it. The synchronised feel to the music here is inflexible, annoying and rather boring, to be frank. This ends with a scream from Kurt Cobain and guitars and drums ending. Barely listenable.
About A Girl is the best song on this album from Nirvana. It begins with a nicely strummed clean electric guitar and has one of Kurt Cobain’s best vocals of Nirvana’s career. This one has a bit more magic than the others that came before it, and it was played on the MTV Unplugged album released after Kurt Cobain’s death. A great listening experience, this sounds really cool. An awesome and adventurous listen from the group. The harmonies at the end are audibly delicious, great work.
School begins with some Grungy guitars and launches into a really cool tune with a badass riff. This is energetic, melodic and listenable, and just sounds really cool. “No recess!” is repeatedly screamed by Kurt Cobain on this album, which illuminates the dystopian picture of the institutionalisation of school. A good tune, even if seriously lacks the magic and wow factor of later Nirvana releases, it does sound awesome, in a Black Flag kind of way.
Love Buzz begins with a nicely played bass guitar riff, before launching into a fairly average song that sounds a little like AC/DC. Which is really weird for a Grunge band to do. Nonetheless, the music on this album is just okay, it’s not sensational or fantastic. Which is a real letdown. There is plenty of screaming and other good musical touches present on this album, but even so, the music present is not that great. It sounds very dirge like and is proof that Nirvana had a long way to before reaching their best. The outro section is really awful, listen at your own risk. A very ordinary tune to listen to. It drags on and on to the end. Boring.
Paper Cuts are the painful and stupid thing school kids do to impress others on their hands. This sounds really awful from the start, and it sounds like a parody of what Nirvana was as a band. Which is a huge shame. Anyway, this album probably can be stopped at this point, and you should listen to something else and/or do something else. A really drivel piece with some awful screaming from Kurt Cobain. Nonetheless, this drags on and on and sounds really ordinary. This really shouldn’t have been on an album, Nirvana needed to refine their craft a lot. Anyway, this tune is four minutes of rubbish, and lacks serious musicality. The screaming at the end is skillful but awful. Ordinary, to say the least.
Negative Creep begins with feedback, before launching into an energetic song that is powerful. A different tune about sick and disgusting things, it is difficult to determine if this is to shock or not. Some manic screaming is throughout by Kurt Cobain, and this illuminates what sick heads do, at least lyrically. Anyway, the tune present is okay, even if it is an awful subject matter. The outro is very good, a good song from this album worth hearing.
Scoff begins with some very 1980s sounding drums, followed by some awful Grungy guitars. An average tune that sounds weird, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana were struggling to make it with some abnormal tunes. Fortunately, they lifted their game after this album, but this album isn’t even that good so far. A very ordinary and repetitive tune that needs junking, this is an average listen. This album would be best stopped playing and avoided for the most part. This is an example of why this is so. A really naff and boring tune to hear, the music on this song is annoying. Skip this and go and do something else. Dull music. It ends with some good screaming by Kurt Cobain, however.
Swap Meet begins with a bleep, some down tuned and Grungy guitars and a feeling that the music on this album isn’t the best. A good listening experience, but not really great here. This is more interesting than the previous songs on the album but is still dull. A song about teenage romance with some decent drumming, this could have been improved, especially the guitar solo on this tune. A real drag to hear after a while, this is nothing special. Ordinary, enough to put one to sleep. Fortunately, it ends after three minutes of music.
Mr Moustache begins with a drum roll, Dead Kennedys styled guitars and a fairly quick pace to boot. It is a really awful tune to hear, nothing hugely special about this song, and it sounds really messed up, again. It is a good thing that Nirvana got their act together later on, as this album is obviously a failure. This song is not that different, either. It does show some promise, however. A good song, but again, nowhere near a great song. The end of the song has some screaming, heavy guitar and bass parts before slowly right down to conclude. Very ordinary.
Sifting comes next and begins with some boring drum beats, before entering into a very Grungy piece of music that is incredibly awful sounding. This song is beyond terrible and is Exhibit A in why it took Nirvana quite some time to be accepted in the Rock community. The music present is dull, boring and discordant. A forgettable tune from a forgettable album, this is painful emotionally to get through. A bad piece of music that sounds off, and drags on and on. To be frank, do hit the stop button and never listen to this junk again. An unfortunate album with terrible tunes, and you can hear why. This falls apart at the seams and it is very difficult to get through this five-minute-long song. Drivel, just pure junk. The guitar solo isn’t redeeming either, and some violining on guitar here doesn’t help. Enough to give one a headache. Pathetic, nothing great nor special about this song. The outro is very repetitive.
Big Cheese begins with a very basic guitar riff and feedback, followed by bass guitar and the rest of the band. This is another nonsensical tune that doesn’t really work. Which isn’t surprising by this point. An awful tune to hear, it is difficult to know what Nirvana was thinking by this point. They needed to do a lot better, and the music here is fairly dreadful. Some good screaming from Kurt Cobain is present here, but that’s about it. Very difficult to get through this song. A really ordinary listen. Hard to believe that at this point, these guys were considered the future of Grunge music. Ordinary, it ends with some chugging guitar riffs.
Downer is the last song and the shortest on this album, running at around a minute and a half or so. A short, sharp and awful piece of Nirvana. In any case, a mediocre end to a mediocre album. Lame. This song ends an album that should have never been made. Trite.
This album is quite terrible, to be honest. It lacks cohesion, magic and above all, decent music for even Grunge fans to appreciate. This is only really recommended for Nirvana fans, otherwise please avoid this album. Save your ears and listen to something better. Nirvana lifted their game after this release, which helped them infinitely. However, this record is poor. Avoid.