After the big chaos that was Nevermind, Kurt was particularly angry. The record was toyed too much and ended up being too polished for his tastes. It isn’t surprising considering Bleach sounded like an old demo half the time. He was also upset at the recent media attention that he got, he seriously couldn’t take it so when it was time for Nirvana to record another album, no way was it going to be another Nevermind. In Utero is supposed to be the album that Kurt always wanted to make but he still wasn’t happy with it. Some of the songs didn’t turn out the way he wanted them to be and the original recording of the album was dropped and had to be produced more as the record company said it wouldn’t sell. However Kurt had always said that he had 100 percent control of the record.
It’s not surprising why the record company didn’t like the record as even the finished product wasn’t really accessible. So why did it sell quite a lot? A strong single and a large fan base already was all they needed. The main single, Heart-Shaped Box is a highly contagious number with the hook, “Hey! Wait! I’ve got a new complaint!”. A line that will stick in your head as soon as you hear it. So it’s totally catchy? No, the song is actually quite gloomy and disheartening (pun).
As you can guess, In Utero was quite the hit even though it doesn’t seem radio friendly. The album title was originally supposed to be "Verse Chorus Verse" or “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die" (that idea was abandoned when Kurt said fans wouldn’t get the joke). They then got the title In Utero from a poem Courtney Love wrote which means “in the uterus” in Latin. In Utero showed a slower side to Nirvana containing acoustic songs such as, All Apologies and Dumb. Kurt was always wanting to flex his writing skills on acoustic songs and on this album, he truly does that. While having acoustic songs, the band mostly use a corrosive, more experimental side with songs such as Scentless Apprentice, Tourettes and Milk It.
The experimental tracks are a definite departure from Nevermind and for the better. These tracks include lots of constant feedback, heaviness and Kurt screaming/whimpering his heart out. My favourite out those select tracks is Milk It which opens up with what sounds like a weird jam session only to open it’s self up to a grungy guitar part that Kurt seems to love on this album. Kurt’s vocals are so silent until the chorus where Kurt shouts “Doll steak! Test meat!” The song is a full-size heap of inaccessibility but I love it anyway. Now, I am a vivid fan of noise in music, I find it very expressing. For one to use something as simple as feedback to get their emotions across, while it maybe sad or angry. Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter shows this, the first minute of the song is just feedback and the feedback just continues through the whole song. It’s obvious that the title refers to Smells Like Teen Spirit which was Nirvana’s big hit (and probably one of the only reasons Nevermind sold so many millions). The most filler and heaviest track is Tourettes. Hated by a lot of people, loved by me. Kurt is at his tormented in this song. Tourettes is just a minute and half and contains Kurt screaming disturbingly and contains this sweet punk guitar piece. Obviously not the best but it is quite amusing for a while. The lyrics always seem nonsensical but I know there is a deeper meaning behind them. Kurt would always use a lot of metaphors and when he read or heard a line he liked, he would write it down and turn the line into his own meaning.
That’s what a lot of Nirvana lyrics are based around making it quite hard to figure out the meaning. Kurt’s guitar parts are quite containing power chords and other nonsensical chords. Krist is a talented bassist but weirdly enough, he doesn’t shine out an awful lot on the album. Dave’s drumming is brilliant, he creates some great beats (Scentless Apprentice) and some awfully nice fills (Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter) Obviously with a band like Nirvana, you really can’t judge it on the technicality. The album is powered by atmosphere, grungy riffs and Kurt giving it his all. Possibly one of my favourite albums of the early nineties. All in all, I enjoyed this album greatly and would fit perfectly with any 90s album collections.
i thought that krist did a great job making up not hard bass lines but bass lines that were original and fit well like all apologies, and rape me, and in heart shaped box. cool review, by the way.This Message Edited On 09.16.06
This is my favorite Nirvana album. There are some really amazing songs on hear. I wish he wouldn't have gone over board with those wierd guitar sounds though like in Milk It and Sentless. They ruined some of those songs. Good review.
I've still never heard a Nirvana album in full, I think i'm gonna try this one.
This is a pretty good review Derek, much improved on the Bleach one! If anything, i'd say that the conclusion could flow better, as it doesn't particuarly summarise your review, it actually adds quite a bit too it. so maybe edit that paragraph around and add a new conclusion in? Anyways, it's no biggie, good review.
Yeah, the review kinda ends awkwardly, but other than that, excellent review. This is my favorite Nirvana album. I haven't listened to it, or any Nirvana for that matter, in ages though. I should do that soon.This Message Edited On 09.16.06
nice review, of course could expand a lil bit and grammatically but i won't nitpick!
Glad to see another one that loves Tourette's and the "noise" tracks, these opened up my eyes to a world of other music! Like the bit you were getting at with the using "feedback to get their emotions across" - alot of the meaning in Nirvana's music is in the sound and not the lyrics and technique goes out the window but it sounds pretty damn good!
“I Hate Myself and I Want to Die" (that idea was abandoned when Kurt said fans wouldn’t get the joke).
Probably a good idea there.
In Utero showed a slower side to Nirvana containing acoustic songs such as, All Apologies and Dumb.
I believe your thinking of Nirvana unplugged...I don't think either of the album versions of those songs feature an acoustic guitar.
Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter shows this, the first minute of the song is just feedback and the feedback just continues through the whole song.
If by a minute you mean 18 seconds than I agree.
That being said I love this album and all the songs on it, but I wouldn't call Nevermind "chaos" that was a great album too, but I also enjoyed the roughness of this album and Bleach as well.This Message Edited On 09.19.06