September 15, 2008

Nirvana: "Nevermind".

Another review from the archives. I wrote this back in January, after returning to my Nirvana fascination (it's an annual occurance for me).

Somehow, it's a classic; I guess for a band like Nirvana, having come from podunk Aberdeen and playing cramped record store shows, that's just a little strange. No one really stops to think that Nirvana was at one time as unheard of as Fecal Matter (Kurt's first musical brainstorm), and yet, Nirvana was an understudy of Buzz Osborne and The Melvins for quite some time before breaking out onto the scene. Kurt intuitively fused the hooks commonly found in pop music with sludge metal, almost single-handedly birthing grunge music, or at the very least spearheading its infection upon the world.

What doesn't quite add up is just where this spick and span little post-punk delight came from.

Nevermind is a phase that every teenager inevitably goes through; it's every kid's savior, and it makes sense somehow while at the same time retaining complete obscurity through either intentional or unintentional ambiguity. The only thing that I notice now in hindsight is the eerily professional final mix of the record; why is it that such a grungy, sludgy album, chock full of punk-itude, is so spot-on? It's quite a mystery; every note Cobain plays just seems much too perfect for a punk band, and yet there he is, screaming himself silly: "Gotta' find a way, a better way! When I'm Theeeeere!" I feel that this is why Nirvana is regarded as the pioneers of Alternative rock; they found some loophole where you can play all-out punk rock and make it sound as pristine and polished as you want - and it still works. Hmmph.

It's a fact that the band was not very pleased with the record, partly due to this very quality - it just sounds too produced to be a Nirvana record. Somehow, this little ideosyncracy created quite a following for the Aberdeen three.

I know I am very adament about how wrong it is to apply the "artistic profundity = sonic delivery" formula to each and every album, but sometimes, you find the exception to the rule - and here it is. Nevermind is very important for various reasons, but in the grand scheme of things, Nevermind, to me, set the stage for every Alternative band to come - whether they liked it or not. You cannot argue with a record that sells 400,000 copies a week in the US alone. You have to perk up a bit and take notice; such an album is worth emulating.

I don't necessarily condone such thinking, I merely interpret it through my own personal filter. Nevermind is a force, a law, if you will; it's like Newton's discovery of gravity, or Eintein's discovery of mass warping spacetime - you don't really have to like such things; they're just there, and they're forces to be reckoned with. Nevermind is a great album, but honestly, Nirvana was only truly Nirvana through their dirty, poorly-received (compared with this money-magnet) predecessor "Bleach" and their last record "In Utero", both of which I prefer over Nevermind any day.

>>Link to my original review on rateyourmusic.com.
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