Review Summary: An over-hyped, over-rated and average compilation album. I honestly don't see why anybody gives this so much attention.
First off, I’ll state that I think Nirvana get a lot of undeserved attention. I enjoyed Nevermind; it is a good album even though it is severely overrated. In Utero I liked even more, it had a raw yet polished sound which sat very well with me. Bleach was okay, it gave a glimpse of where the sound Nirvana would eventually have came from. Incesticide however, I thought was not so great, and that the hype it has created to be a joke. So many people praise it for being ‘the real Nirvana’, or the Nirvana that stayed away from commercialism, but I ask you, is that enough to say it’s a good album? I think it isn’t.
I can sum up the entire album in this one sentence: for every good song, there is a very mediocre song. There are some great songs on the album, like Aneurysm, Sliver and Beeswax. Then there are some ones which I found to be incredibly average and boring, like Stain, Big Long Now, (New Wave) Polly and Turnaround. I’ll point out to people who didn’t already know: this album contains songs that are either on other albums, covers of The Vaselines, or songs that didn’t make it into any of the albums. That doesn’t sound like a good prospect for an album. At the most, I’d say it’s only good for those die-hard Nirvana fans that need to listen to every song, every recording, and every thing Cobain touched. I personally had my fun with the several good songs on the album and then let it live out the rest of its days in my CD cabinet.
Production-wise, this is the poorest Nirvana album. A lot of replies to that are that being grunge, this album needs to be under-produced. I strongly disagree. An example is the Screaming Trees. One of the most underrated grunge bands, their music sounded great, rather than sludgy. Another issue with Incesticide is that the production is different on some of the songs. I know that it’s a result of there being separate recordings (from different places and by different people), but for me it stopped it from being one cohesive album.
However, the typical Nirvana formula is here to excite the fans. Simple drumming, simple bass, and guitars that have the overdrive knob turned to max. I personally really enjoyed Beeswax, it reminded me very much of Paper Cuts from Bleach. It has that sort of insane, demented ferocity that I like most about Nirvana. Cobain’s knack for writing catchy choruses is as good as ever, and these are apparent on songs like Sliver and Aneurysm. I didn’t like the remixed version of Polly. The strength of the original was in its somber melody, so speeding it up just made it bad. The Vaseline covers aren’t anything special either, I’d much prefer to listen to the originals.
On the whole, this album is pretty average. This isn’t because of Cobain’s musicianship, the production, or anything like that. It’s because this album was not meant to be a proper album, yet garners as much attention as one. As a compilation album it does its job, but if I’m ever in the mood to listen to Nirvana, I’ll put on Nevermind or In Utero, not Incesticide. The few good songs on the CD and the interesting artwork make this a 2.5, other than that I would have given it a 2.