By Jack Bragg, Courier Entertainment Editor
Few albums have so large an impact that they change the scope of the genre they encapsulate. In 1991, Nirvana’s smash-hit album Nevermind did just that. Before Nevermind, grunge rock was a strange subgenre of alternative rock. By 1992, the success of Nirvana’s debut made grunge rock the most talked about and influential format for a rock band in the early 90’s. Now twenty years later, we still can see the many artistic and aesthetic features that made Nirvana one of the biggest bands in history.
With the deluxe edition of Nevermind hitting store shelves this month, it becomes important to understand why an album like Nevermind is still as relevant as it ever was twenty years ago.
The twisted and melancholy tones of lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain’s writing brings the aesthetic quality of the tracks to a point that becomes of supreme interest when one knows of Kurt Cobain’s eventual suicide a mere 3 years after the release of the album. Such disparaging lyrics make the album seem depressive and sad, but it’s only when one looks into the deeper undertones of the album that one can see the intended beauty of such dark themes. Along with such dark themes, one can notice an expression of youthful angst that is still just as much a feature of today’s youth as it was twenty years ago.
Besides the songs that were singles and instant hits in 1991-1992, like “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Come As You Are”, “Lithium” and “In Bloom”, one might also notice many more tracks from this monumental album being ripped to the airwaves. Songs that were mere filler tracks in the early 90’s are beginning to be recognized for their own unique aspects that they bring the album. Songs like “Breed” and “On a Plain” are just two examples of the many other tracks that were taken from this album and given a second wind after the shockwave caused by Cobain’s suicide had subsided.
Another interesting aspect is to see the impact drummer Dave Grohl and Krist Noveselic had on the album. While at the time, and for some time after, almost all of the focus was on Kurt Cobain’s leading man persona, little did anyone know how much his bandmates contributed to the writing process. Today drummer Dave Grohl can be seen fronting his own band, The Foo Fighters, who have themselves risen to the levels of fame and recognition that Nirvana received in their years following Nevermind’s release.
The important thing to consider when listening to Nevermind, whether it be the new remastered deluxe edition, the CD, or the old cassette tape you found in a box in your garage, is that Nevermind has not only withstood the test of time, it has grown with it, thriving to become recognized as one of the most important and monumental albums ever released. While the meanings of the songs may shift slightly as the present becomes history, the album itself only grows in meaning.