This album sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, and it doesn’t deserve to be. It is very much in the style of earlier works, however people get involved in trying to assign meaning to the lyrics. There has been endless discussion about Cobain, his motivations, emotions, his distance from the underground, how he wanted to go back to the “roots”, his alienation from fame, Courtney “The Bitch” Love yadda yadda yadda…….
As for me, after all these years, I am in a position to view the pop culture waves from a distance, and I know the tides, its ebbs and the fallout. Nirvana was adapted by all “players” for their own purposes, and In Utero encapsulates that trend perfectly – the music is tired – so tired and frustrated – it is the feeling you get when you realize that you are but tiny fish in the pond caught in currents beyond your ken and control and nothing you say or do will change anything. The corruption runs deep, deeper than imagined, and nothing is pure, no driven snow. The hippies want recognition – the mindless corporation wants money – and the rest-well, who’s left?
If Bleach was juvenile white hot fury – if Nevermind was a confident, hopeful attack – In Utero is the dawning realization there is only so much that you can do after all. Somebody, somewhere, will exploit you somehow, you can get used to it or stick a gun to your head. Throughout In Utero runs the theme of parasitic behavior and hidden agendas – by listeners, corporations, lovers and friends. A man gets driven to suicide when he goes back home and knows that nobody has his back – not his wife, not his friends, and definitely not his real estate investment handler-and when you have perceived value it will be used, and used and you will be run dry and then throw away like a used glove.
The sonic palette of In Utero is raw static tinged with touches of gentle moonlight, good enough to make your head drop in your hands and listen to the album the whole way through – somehow this has become my go-to album when I want my dose of Nirvana. You could call this late period ironic post hardcore punk, or better yet, lets not attach any labels because we all know that’s a mug’s game, eh?
Some songs are just abrasive for the sake of being abrasive and would not make sense out of the context of the album – however this album remains a must hear and neat addition to the short lived grunge period in rock music. The Ramones and the Misfits will hardly ever understand the ramifications of their 2 minute 2 chord expositions, will they now?