Saturday, June 15, 2019

30 years of Nirvana's Bleach

Nirvana released their debut album, Bleach, 30 years ago today, on June 15, 1989.

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can listen to the remastered version with bonus material for free here.

Most of Bleach was relentlessly heavy and dark, before the band opened itself up to more varied approaches on Nevermind and In Utero. The exception is the poppy "About a Girl," which has been compared to the Beatles.

While that's the most obviously commercial song on the album, the band's knack for hooks is also clear on "Blew" (the first song on the first Nirvana album and the second-to-last song they ever played live) and "School" (showing the power of minimal lyrics with just 16 words: one line each in the verse, chorus, and interlude).

"Mr. Moustache" is dominated by fast metal riffs, but occasional vocal harmonies give a taste of what's to come on Nevermind (compare it with "On a Plain," for instance).

The most overlooked song on the album is "Sifting," which lumbers along ominously before rushing headlong into a gloriously catchy chorus.

Bleach inevitably didn't put Nirvana in its best light: the album's budget was just $600, and the drummer's choppy feel made it clear why he was later replaced by Dave Grohl. But for all its flaws, Bleach gives us the original intensity of the greatest rock band of their all too brief time.