This is the quintessential grunge experience. The real grunge, and not the highly produced, squeaky clean, hard rock of Nevermind. Before you start saying anything, I am not knocking Nevermind, I am just telling you what to expect from Bleach and contrasting it with the mega super hit that followed. Bleach is the true representative of the underground, counterculture movement that was grunge. It was nothing that the world hadn’t seen before; punk came about as a reaction to the art rock movement in the 70’s, grunge was the natural underground reaction to adult contemporary and glam rock of the 80’s (Motley Crue, Poison, Ratt etc..and many more which were even less relevant, musically and historically. Imagine that.) Oh, and grunge is just the more distortion happy, heavy rock-ish cousin of straightforward 3 chord happy punk, and was more culturally updated, i.e. it was the late 80’s-early 90’s.
Note: – Grunge of that period sounds nothing like the grunge that was marketed by the big corporation record labels in the 93-97 period, after which mainstream got more into Britney Spears with her “Oh Baby One more time” hit and grunge’s popularity ended, people stopped wearing faded jeans and girls stopped wearing anything at all, which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, lesser clothes and loose, drunk and vulnerable chicks is the only good thing about hip-hop/teenybopper culture. I mean, c’mon, if grunge had stayed as popular as it once was, the chicks would all be wearing faded jeans and denim jackets, and would that be a turn on? To come back to my point, if you heard some crappy band like Candlebox/Tad/Stone Temple Pilots/Bush, or maybe you heard Pearl Jam (which is a good band but not grunge at all), and thought that that was grunge you need to go back to the basics, i.e. Nirvana’s awesome grunge album from 1989 called Bleach to see what it was really all about.
Ugly, uglier, ugliest. Raw, rawer, rawest. That’s the short and sour of it. There are no variations in mood, unless you think that going from highly depressed/suicidal/alienated/lonely to pissed off/freaking big rage is a variation. All the songs might sound samey-samey in the beginning so I would recommend that you take it slowly, one at a time, and I am sure you will like it, unless you are in love and in a successful relationship and you also like your job and co-workers and are in no mood for anything but Bollywood love songs and Celine Dion. I am happy to state that I am in no such state of mind, and very likely, never will be, therefore I like Bleach and am gonna stick with it.
The guitars are distorted and fun, the chords are basic, and very angry you know? I mean, I never knew that a simple F sharp or E minor could sound so pissed off and cynical, you know? The lyrics are very simple and very effective and mostly consist of one liners repeated in different ways by Cobain, for example, “No Recess!!”, and “Gimme Some Alcohol !!” are screamed at you in a 5 different ways, though the pitch is pretty much the same, till the point that they are stuck in your mind for quite some time.
The main qualities/strengths of this album do not lie in the album pacing or variation or individual song quality however, but the overall sound and mood. The soundscape created is something that is missing on later albums (even though they tried to reprise this on In Utero) so Bleach becomes pretty essential. Oh, and they ripped off some stuff from here and used it on Nevermind. “School” reminds me of the intro of “Territorial Pissings”, and if sped up, the rest would sound like the Nevermind song too, “About a Girl” reminds me of “Come As You Are”, in fact that song reminds of a lot of other Nirvana songs that came later. We also have an awesome cover song called “Love Buzz” (originally by a band I’ve never heard of before and whose name I forget even now), which is based on a driving bass riff. This, and never before have I meant it so much literally, sounds right.
Recommended Songs :- About a Girl, Blew, School, Love Buzz, Mr Moustache, Scoff.