Nirvana. What can I say about these guys that you guys don’t already know or I haven’t said from my other reviews. Not too much actually. Well In Utero was, as said by Kurt, Nirvana going back to their roots. It was more experimental and weird. They were accused of commercial suicide after they released this cd, which was very false. They just wanted to make a louder and more experimental cd. This cd is chock full of classic Nirvana songs from start to finish. Basically, this cd really shows how Kurt, Chris, and Dave were getting better as musicians. Kurt has much more creative guitar riffs, Chris does some of his best bass work, and Dave has excellent fills, great beats, and he also wrote the guitar riff for Scentless Apprentice.
A great thing about this cd is how they didn’t just do what they did on Nevermind, they changed it up and experimented a bit more. A nice example of this would be Milk It. The odd and scrambled mess of the intro is a side of Nirvana that wasn’t really shown on their previous albums. I don’t know what makes it so different, but there’s just something about how it changes as it goes. From the intricate out of tune picking to the loud and extremely infectious main riff. Then into the odd verse with the mumbled words. Sure Nirvana has plenty of songs like that but they take it to the max with this song and it turns out amazingly and makes one of the best songs on the cd. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter is another great song with the odd feedback for an intro. Then the pounding drums and thumping bass come in with Kurt making a bunch of weird noises and then when the guitar comes in you have to start jumping around. It’s full of energy and raw anger. The lyrics are also extremely well written. They’re really spacey and they paint a nice picture. Kurt said that’s how he likes art, and I got to agree with him his lyrics are one of the best parts of Nirvana. Then there’s a bridge consisting of a bunch of feedback and noise and the drums still pounding away. But oddly enough Chris stops playing which kind of disappointed me. I would have liked to see what that guy would have did during this strange bridge.
Scentless Apprentice is another noisy master piece on here. The drums were actually what they based the main riff off of. They’re really great and provide an excellent driving beat. During the noisy post-verse they have an awesome loud crash cymbal beat that gives it a lot of its energy. The guitar of course is loud and noisy like it is on most of this album and doesn’t do anything really different but it’s still got an excellent riff and a very loud noise solo. Unfortunately this isn’t a song in which Chris does an amazing job on. He basically does what the guitar does with no fills which I think would have sounded really good. Another great noise track is Tourette's. The lyrics are just Kurt screaming random phrases that rhyme and it sounds pretty humourous. It's got a really catchy main riff that reminds me of Territorial Pissings. It's loud raw and sounds like there's no work put into it what-so-ever. But that's what makes the song great.
But not everything was all noise and experimentation. There were a few songs that could’ve fit in well with Nevermind. Rape Me was one of these songs. When I first heard the guitar intro it reminded me of Teen Spirit. I don’t know why though. It’s typical Nirvana. The semi quiet verse to the loud and thundering chorus. Contray to belief this is actually an anti rape song. It’s supposed to be about the irony of how a guy would raoe a girl go to jail and then get raped in jail. The bass on here is really nice and has some excellent fills. I find the fills are like the ones on About A Girl (Bleach). Very simple but very creative at the same time. Heart Shaped Box is a song with single written all over it. Although it might not be that way for another band for Nirvana it’s that way. It’s catchy, loud, and full of emotion. The instruments during the chorus when Kurt screams: Hey!, Wait! Bend and twist to mimic the sound and it sounds amazing. The bass on here is excellent too. It has some great riffs with little fills but it’s still very creative. The drums are very nicely done with really great rim shots thrown in during the verse. And of course it’s one of Kurt’s best guitar lines. It stays in your head and makes the song what it is.
The creativity they show on here is that of which they never showed on any other cd. Serve The Servants shows the superb skills this band had when it came to putting a song together. The loud start and into an awesome verse that is pure grungey punk. The drums keep the beat going but are not the best. The bass has some excellent riffs and fills on this one too. The chorus is great with Chris messing around with octaves and all that stuff. The main guitar riff is one of the best on the cd. It sounds out of tune but works great. The solo shows how Kurt was slowly becoming a much better soloist. It has a bit more structure than most Nirvana songs. Pennyroyal Tea also shows how Kurt was improving as a soloist. It has one of his best solos. It’s based off the two main chords and is a great bended and mutilated solo. Only it manages to stay moving and beautiful.
Now, how can I review In Utero and not mention the slower songs. While the more loud songs are really where it’s at on here the nice and slow ones really keep this album from being repetitive. All Apologies is pretty much one of Nirvana’s most beautiful songs. It’s got a perfect acoustic guitar riff during the chorus and goes into distortion during the chorus, it’s not loud though. The drums are superb on this track. With the loosenings of the high hat and the excellent substitutions of the snare with the toms really make it sound nice. Chris also provides a very simple and creative bass line that suits the guitar perfectly. The cello, as usual, adds a nice mournful sound to a great song. Dumb is also another great soft song. It’s very simple. The guitar playing the same chords and the bass thudding along with a nice little bass line and the drums doing some simple rim shots. It all comes together nicely and then during the chorus the mournful cello is heard. But the best part of the song it the bridge. All the instruments come into a nice depressing bridge. It’s very beautiful and the transition is done very nicely.
I can’t finish this review without talking about the lyrics on here. They were probably some of Kurt’s best. I’m not completely sure about the meaning behind all of them, but they sure are nice and make you think. Those are the great kind of lyrics. The ones you don’t have to understand to enjoy. The ones that leave you to figure out what they mean. Some great lyrics are definitely on Serve The Servants. The opening line: Teenage angst has payed off well, now I’m bored and old
are supposed to be about what Kurt thought of the grunge scene and his past experiences in the music biz. He said they completely change subject after that. Heart Shaped Box is another great song lyrically. It’s got some touching lyrics one second and then somewhat disturbing lyrics the next. Like: She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak, I’ve been trapped inside her heart shaped box for weeks, I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap, I wish I could eta your cancer when you turn black.
Pennyroyal Tea has some really nice lyrics to. The way they’re sung is really nice and very mournful which is very typical for the slower songs on here. Some very odd lyrics can be found on Scentless Apprentice. Like when he sings: Like most babies smell like butter, His smell smelled like no other, He was born scentless and senseless, He was born a scentless apprentice.
. I cannot make head or tales of these lyrics but they make you think and I think that’s what Kurt went for with a lot of his lyrics. He wanted to make people go: I wonder what he means"
Of course his lyrics can’t all be great, though. On tourette’s he basically just screams random sentences that rhyme like he has tourette’s (although I doubt people with tourettes try to make their sentences rhyme).
I would say this shows Nirvana in their best light. It shows a large growth in Nirvana creatively, lyrically, and there’s a certain air about this album that is really nice. The transition from soft to loud on here may be odd but it’s done well. I highly recommend this whether you’re just starting out with Nirvana or not. It shows a more mature, musician wise, Nirvana than we have seen before.