Power Trio, Pop Craft : NIRVANA: “Nevermind”, <i> DGC</i>

From its earliest singles, Nirvana has had the ability to persuade you that you were, for the moment at least, listening to the best band in the world--sort of a universal alienated-youth cry set to an undeniable punk-rock roar.

Nirvana, a power trio from the tiny, Twin Peaks-ian town of Aberdeen, Wash., distills the essence of what it means to be young, and smart, and not have a whole lot to do. Even now that it’s signed to monster-label Geffen, the trio remains the quintessential Northwest underground band.

When bellowing choruses, singer-guitarist Kurt Cobain has an amazing voice, the vocal equivalent of a Stratocaster pumped through a fuzzbox and a stack of Marshall amps, a voice thick with anger and melody and pure noise. If Hendrix sang like he played the guitar, it might have sounded a little like this.


But on its 1989 Sub Pop album, Nirvana’s power was confined to its thrash and its melodies to its Seeds-style ‘60s-sounding numbers. Here the band combines the two. The hooky, awesomely catchy songs on “Nevermore” have the inevitability of folk songs--as if all the band had to do was dig them up, not write them--and the strummed, gloomy acoustic ballads rock just as hard here as the punk-rock anthems. Nothing may be quite so over-the-top as the last album’s “Negative Creep,” but in sheer pop craft, “Nevermind” may be the “Meet the Beatles” of grunge.

Rating: * * *1/2