Album Review: Nevermind by Nirvana
Irrespective of the seemingly simple title, Nevermind is an album that manages to draw attention to itself regardless of its misleading name. Indeed, the album was a defining spectacle of the late 1980s and early 1990s due to the innovations that it brought to the encompassing genre of rock music. At a time when music was largely designated to the sun-filled locales of California, Nevermind forced people to incline their ears towards the Seattle music scene, which has solely been credited for the ascent of grunge – a sub-genre of rock music that was heavy and aggressive yet packed with emotions and an unexplainable catchiness. In 1991, on September 24, the band, Nirvana, consisting of lead vocalist, Kurt Cobain, guitarist, Krist Novoselic, and drummer, Dave Grohl, recorded and released one of the best albums ever to encapsulate the modern age of rock music. In fact, the massive impact of Nevermind was evidenced by the way it managed to knock out Dangerous, which was arguably one of the best albums created by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Undoubtedly, the immense popularity garnered by Nirvana’s Nevermind was not out of mere luck. From the onset of the grungy-meets-pop “Smells like Teen Spirit” to the dense psychedelic disposition of “Something in the Way,” Nevermind was undoubtedly an album capable of securing local and international attention. Nonetheless, the interesting aspect concerning the album’s cult status involved its non-inventiveness as far as the songs are concerned. For audiophiles of the genre, it is possible to notice the extent to which the dynamics of Nevermind pay homage to sounds constructed by alternative rock bands such as the Pixies, the Smithereens, and Husker Du. Nonetheless, the remarkable aspect regarding the album in question involved the sheer yet colossal nature of its songs and the writing respectively. Indeed, the penmanship exhibited by Cobain and his fellow cohorts was somewhat unique at the time considering the huge degree to which artists such as Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer dominated the airwaves with their simplistic notes.
Songs such as “Come As You Are,” “Lithium,” and “Polly” were a testament to the band’s ability to pen weird yet creatively inspiring lyrics. For example, in the song, “Come as You Are,” Nirvana sought to display an anti-judgmental stance towards their fans with the words, “Come as you are, As you were, As I want you to be/As a friend, as a trend, as an old enemy.” These lyrics alone captured by a song made distinct by the use of a guitar pedal became a radio staple – a development that was unheard of due to the way radios often emphasized profiteering over inventive musicianship. Additionally, the cynicism expressed in “Lithium” further illustrates the extraordinary nature that constitutes Nevermind. A particular line that often exhibited Cobain’s wry yet sardonic humor in the song was “I’m so ugly/That’s OK ‘cause so are you.” Indeed, the amalgamation of clever and inventive lyrics with a raw, aggressive, yet catchy sound managed to establish why Nevermind is powerful in its own weird right.
Every song on Nevermind manages to evoke a brash effect that ultimately leaves the listener pumped and ready to dance regardless of the nature of the subjects that Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl cover in their lyrics. For instance, the song “Polly in all its catchiness is a narrative focusing on the sexual assault of a young girl. Lyrics such as “Let me clip your dirty wings” set a distinctly ominous persona to the song irrespective of its beguiling disposition. However, the most appalling part regarding the song is that actual events may have inspired the narrative that Cobain sang about. Nonetheless, despite the off-putting and disturbing nature of the respective song, it is hard to skip “Polly” based on the way it manages to constitute a strong component of the album’s grungy and accessible framework. However, songs such as “Territorial Pissings,” “Drain You,” “Lounge Act,” “Stay Away,” and “On a Plain inundate the listener’s mind with a hefty punk-pop sensibility that washes away any negative and pessimistic sentiments raised prior.
What structures the entire album comprises the concluding song, ‘Something In The Way”, which does not function in the same structural framework as the other songs. Indeed, after the aggression and rawness of the previous songs, “Something In The Way” calms the mind with its soft yet clear desperation. The lyrics, which narrate Cobain’s experiences living under a bridge as an outcome of homelessness, are particularly depressing yet heartrending and graceful add another layer to the sentimental complexity exhibited by the band. To this end, Nevermind is an actual masterpiece that has managed to move past its time and inhabit an age in which music views innovation as more of a challenge than a magnetic element. Nirvana’s ability to combine the aggressive nature of the rock genre with the sensibility of pop music led to the creation of an album that genuinely marked the rise of a movement that forever ensured the engraving of Cobain and Nirvana as a staple of rock music at its finest.