Dec 23, 1991
NEVERMIND, Nirvana (Geffen/Sub Pop)
This Seattle-based band have been threatening to do something great for a while now and this is it. Their earlier efforts on independent label Sub Pop sounded raucous and ratty, yet there was more than a hint of melodic and lyrical charm in guitarist/singer Kurt Cobain.
Their major-label debut brings it all to the surface. They’ve furnished themselves with a decent drummer (rock-solid David Grohl) and tightened up their playing considerably (even to the point of adding vocal harmonies) without compromising the primal power of magnetic pickups and vibrating steel.
Cobain’s downbeat attitude and sense of irony make this group a potential replacement Replacements. Hear the voice of a terminal ennui sufferer as he drags out lines like “I’m so excited, I’m so horny” (‘Lithium’). But be prepared for surprising emotional gear changes – the same song climaxes with Cobain screaming the refrain “I love you, I’m not gonna crack/I miss you I’m not gonna crack…” with real gut-wrenching passion.
Sometimes they’re just sneering and cynical, even towards their own audience. “Here we are now, entertain us…; “He likes all our pretty songs and he likes to sing along but he don’t know what it means…”
Only occasionally do they get stuck on a one-chord-riff-you-have-when-you’re-not-having-a-riff. ‘Breed’ is the worst example. But a bit of throwaway and what-the-hell is part of what makes this group so fresh, unaffected and appealing. To coin one of their titles, it “smells like teen spirit”.