Jun 18, 2012

Nirvana - Bleach (1989)

First proper album I ever bought on vinyl- it's not their most consistent (Nevermind) or their rawest (In Utero), but it's the only time a) they weren't legends and b) they wrote and performed caveman punk. That thing about the legend has cynics claiming that nobody would give a shit about releases like this if they never became the legend but they did (ha!) and you don't know that, asshole (yeah!) and I think I'd love this record any way (bitch)- annoying elitist speculation- what ifs I can't answer, like what if your dad was over-excited and came in his pants that night instead (woo!), cue annoying conspiracy keanus. What does it all mean? It means we've got a great garage record by average dudes as negative creeps who performed songs about jock dads (Mr. Moustache), their mums (The lady whom I feel maternal love for / Cannot look me in the eyes / But I see hers and they are blue / And they cock and twist and masturbate), and other things, the lyrics for which came from an average dude too shy to admit he gave a shit about his songs (c'mon, they're nice!) and wanted too bad to be Buzz playing pop versions of Damaged I and metal versions of Help! It's the same appeal that has me liking records like Weld over the defeated but still wide-eyed poeticism of After the Goldrush- Young boldly going from the artist into one of the guys from the loudest garage rock band in the world- an appeal not seen as an appeal at all by many, but one that I love and respect

Caveman punk? Same as before- gangly garage rock losers playing songs a little bit punk, a little bit pop, a little bit metal, not accidentally crunchy, stompy, and difficult like their heroes. Unusual for a début, it's the only one where it feels like the sounds don't come naturally. All that stuff about not wanting to be famous was balls- Bleach has the negative creeps under severe restrictions (perhaps mental, but likely the guys in charge wanting that sub pop sound) and making the most of things given that. It's not the artistic statement they'd later achieve, the experimental mess of their b-sides collection, or the pop record they always wanted and later regretted. It's the first time the world heard the gangly garage rock losers, compromising their vision and producing an ugly sludge whose appeal lies somewhere in that flawed, naive, sludgey mess- an appeal unexplainable but reachable provided the listener enjoys the frustration of the flaws and sludgeyness that is Bleach



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