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In Utero

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: In Utero

Artist: Nirvana
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: September 1993

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

Any followup to the brilliant and very successful Nevermind was bound to be a let down. But In Utero is a fascinating, very good record that clearly comes from a very gifted and troubled artist. Kurt Cobain had clearly thought a lot about Nirvana's surprising success and was ambivalent and cynical about it . On Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle, Cobain sings "I miss the comfort of being sad". The record starts with Cobain singing "Teenage angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old." on Serve the Servants. Since it was Nirvana's last studio record, it's tempting to examine In Utero for signs of depression and, in fact, they're everywhere. It's certainly not a fun record. Scentless Apprentice and Milk It are powerful hard rock songs where much of Cobain's vocal is a pained wail or scream.  Radio Friendly Unit Shifter is filled with feedback and the chorus has Cobain yelling, what is wrong with me? On the harder songs, Cobain effectively uses guitar noise to depict inner turmoil on the harder songs. Drummer Dave Grohl is good enough to keep up with Cobain. Milk It is about a troubled couple and has the, hard to listen to, line, "on the bright side is suicide" It's understandable that Cobain was troubled when his record company made him rerecord Rape Me as Waif Me based on the particularly dense refusal of department stores to sell In Utero with the original lyric. The song obviously doesn't advocate rape and is mostly about Cobain's sense of persecution. Part of the tragedy of Cobain's suicide comes from  the fact that he was still growing as a writer. All Apologies and Heart Shaped Box are probably the most sophisticated songs Cobain every wrote, moving from sad, subdued verses to intense, yelled choruses. Dumb and All Apologies are given added texture and poignancy by the accompaniment of a cello. All Apologies would later stand up well to closer focus on MTV Unplugged. Dumb is a moving, heartbreaking song where Cobain sings about pretending to the world that he's happy, "I'm not like them but I can pretend." There aren't as many radio friendly rockers as on Nevermind but In Utero does have some tuneful but intense songs Nevermind style songs. Francis Farmer, Very Ape and Serve the Servants, which has a great guitar riff, are very good guitar songs. In Utero is a very good, complicated record. It sounds like the work of a young, talented writer and musician trying to figure out where to go next. Sadly, we can only imagine and extrapolate what excellent works would have followed In Utero and MTV Unplugged.

Review by FenderMan
4 stars out of 4

This album is a must have for anyone who likes "rock" music. "In Utero" did not sell as well as Nevermind, but it was not because the album was not as good. In fact, In Utero is a BETTER album than Nevermind in many respects. Obviosly, Cobain could have cared less about radio airplay, based on the hard-driving cut "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter," the antithesis of modern rock radio. "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies" are the best known tracks, but the songs between the singles are what makes this the best record ever. "Serve the Servants," the crushing "Scentless Apprentice," the misunderstood "Rape Me," the melodic "Dumb," and the punk attack "tourettes" all are distinct and alive. Plus, no other album has this many extremes, hard to soft or slow to fast. David Grohl's drumming is exemplary, and Cobain manages to find engaging guitar riffs (and feedback) throughout the album. His vocals, though, put Nirvana in its own league. No one can match his despair or angst. He calmly sings about his wife, Courtney Love, "She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak/ I've been locked inside your Heart-Shaped Box for weeks," and disturbingly, "Married...Buried" on All Apologies. The emotion runs high on Serve the Servants when he apologizes to his father for hating him for so long "I just want you to know that I don't hate you anymore/there is nothing I could say that I haven't thought before." Buy this record. All its critics hungered for another Nevermind, and Nirvana went to Minnesota and, in about 2 weeks, recorded to best Rock album we will ever have, and the best rock album you will ever hear.



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