In Utero review by Nirvana

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  • Released: Sep 21, 1993
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.2 (217 votes)
Nirvana: In Utero

Sound — 8
The sound is everything you'll expect from the real Nirvana, plenty of feedback, Cobain's grainy vocals, some nice bass work by Krist, and Dave hits drums to his hearts content. It definitely sounds as though the album was recorded in a couple of days, and simply handed to their producers, who most likely gave them a look of horror and amazement. Nirvana were never about clear sound anyway, so by their standards, this is good.

Lyrics — 10
Kurt Cobain happens to be one of my biggest lyric writing influences. So I kind of went over his words with a fine toothed comb here. 01. Serve The Servants - the songs supposed to refer to Kurt's father since his parents divorced when he was 9. Possibly one of the events in his life that affected him mostly, so this is quite an important song. Good phrase in "The legendary divorce is such a bore." 02. Scentless Apprentice - this one's kinda weird, gotta love the lyrics though, I've heard that it was supposedly based on the novel "Perfume" by Patrick Suskind, about a perfume maker who kills virgins for their scent. 03. Heart-Shaped Box - damn good song, I've heard that Kurt Cobain loved this song, and I give him plenty of credit for it. It's about relationships and co-dependancy and various other minor themes. Personally this is a song I've had a love/hate relationship with since many "fake" Nirvana fans like it too, so since its kinda mainstream I lost some of my respect for it. However I regained my admiration for it in the past few months. "Meat-eating orchids forgive no one just yet Cut myself on angel's hair and baby's breath Broken hymen of your highness I'm left black Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back" 04. Rape Me - to tell you all the truth this was the very first Nirvana track I listened to and liked, obviously the title had attracted my attention. Quite a bit of repetition here, its supposed to be about a man who rapes a girl, and is raped by his prison mates in jail. "My favorite inside source I'll kiss your open sores Appreciate your concern You'll always stink and burn" 05. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle - quite a mouthful of words here, a bit cumbersome to say if that happens to be your fave song. I have a feeling that Kurt might have purposefully given it such a long name. Its about an actress, Frances Farmer, who was very outspoken, and was finally lobotomised since she was diagnosed as mentally unfit. Lobotomy was considered as a viable option back then, so the song deals with a tragedy here. One of my all time fave Nirvana songs, with some kickass phrases such as: "In her false withness, we hope you're still with us, to see if they float or drown" Referring to the witch hunts. possibly the tests done on Frances to try declare her insanity: "She'll come back as fire, to burn all the liars, and leave a blanket of ash on the ground " "I miss the comfort in being sad" Of course, a bunch of people would probably only listen to the last line and think that the song is about depression, and conclude that Kurt was suicidal as usual. 06. Dumb - Kurt making fun of ignorant people as always. Reference to drugs and blissful happines, ignorance is bliss (a phrase I don't agree with, but hey, everyone is entitled to their opinions). 07. Very Ape: One of the many attacks by Kurt on macho-ism. The phrase: "I'm too busy acting like I'm not naive" explains a lot. 08. Milk It - still one of Nirvana's strongest songs, and one of my faves, its about co-dependancy (like Heart-Shaped Box) but falls back on quite a few medical terms this time. It ends strongly using opposing terms such as "Obituary birthday." Possibly since the two words are opposites, but go together. 09. Pennyroyal Tea - a quick research on pennyroyal tea will show it to be an abortive substance. Besides being lightly about abortion and the guilt following it, this is mainly about having to take difficult decisions and living with them. A direct reference to abortion might be: "Distill the life that's inside of me." 10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter - this is the jewel in the album. My favourite Nirvana song along with Paper Cuts, it makes fun of the mainstream sell outs and producers constantly pressuring "their" bands to make new stuff, however crappy, as long as money is made. Starts off with a bunch of feedback and isn't easy listening for the non-hardcore fan. 11. Tourette's - now this is an interesting disease. The sufferer goes through moments of screaming obscenities at anyone, or anything. Kurt basically just took the idea, and screams a bunch of mostly meaningless words into a mike. Came out rather well according to me. Has a "moderate rock" phrase possibly recorded off a radio at the start. 12. All Apologies - Kurt wrote this for Courtney and Francis, however the lyrics do not speak about them. This ones a bit different from the rest of the album since it contains no distortion or feedback, and is played in a calm and serene manner. 13. Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip - the longest Nirvana song. Sounds as though it was improvised on stage, and that the band members were high on something while performing it. A lot of random words thrown together that at first glance mean nothing. But then again, why should we expect songs to contain some hidden meaning, doesn't the song die with too much investigation?

Overall Impression — 10
I've had quite a love/hate affair with this album. When I first started listening to Nirvana off a copy of their Greatest Hits album, Heart-Shaped Box and Pennyroyal Tea where my fave songs, and since they were both on In Utero I had decided that that would be my fave album. As time went on, having listened to practically everything else they had to offer I noticed that I began to much prefer the earlier songs found in Bleach such as Paper Cuts and Floyd the Barber, or Radio Friendly Unit Shifter found of course on the album in question here. Songs like Heart-Shaped Box seemed a bit too mainstream for my liking, but recently they've gained ground again in my books. I can't say that In Utero is my favourite album, its pretty hard to choose between my fave two, Bleach and In Utero. What I'm certain is that Nevermind is my least favourite. Great album though, if I would lose it I'd definitely buy it again, if only for its kickass cover and I'd pity the poor person who stole it, since there'd be a good chance he'd never have listened to real Nirvana before and will probably get an earache listening to it. So I guess I'd just pray for him to some "god".

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