By john glynn
The 90’s was a critically feeble time for mainstream music. Nirvana’s second album turned out to be the catalyst for alternative rock to explode onto the scene. Nevermind optimistically glistened with resonance and inimitable distortion, especially when compared with the simplicity of Bleach, their first studio album. Kurt Cobain’s personal troubles and ensuing suicide unsurprisingly deepen the murky undercurrents of this album. Cobain had a remarkable, unrestrained power that transcended his agony, enabling us to enter a surreal musical world. His voice contained just the precise amount of raw edge to convey his anguish. Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl helped turn Cobain’s lyrics into music that was, and still is fascinating and influential.
Many of the songs are just so good that they submerge themselves inside your musical consciousness. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of those unmistakable classics. This was the “Stairway To Heaven” of the 90’s, flashes of metal, flashes of punk, a pure pop-rock tune. The absolute splendor of Nevermind is that every song is as good as the previous; there is not one run of the mill offering.
The intro for “In Bloom” is pretty striking; this tune has ferocious drumming, a killer bass line, and a solo from Kurt that has paved its way into musical history. “Come As You Are” is one of my favorite tracks ever. It’s got a superb guitar line, first-class vocals, and thought provoking lyrics. “And I swear that I don’t have a gun” repeats a discontented Kurt during the bridge. “Lithium” is a real favorite amongst Nirvana enthusiasts; Kurt’s suffering is evident during the chorus, but his soft vocals on each verse compensate.
Nirvana altered the mind of the mainstream public; this allowed grunge bands to be a triumph commercially. Kurt has become the deity of Generation X, it’s his scuffed, coarse voice that you remember after the guitars and drums have faded away.
At the end of the day, Cobain’s fraying presence ensures that Nevermind is a blemished classic, but a classic nonetheless. Nevermind may no longer seem life-altering, but it is unquestionably life affirming, this cannot be disputed.