Nirvana’s roots lay in the underground scene. Sonic Youth were early mentors, ‘Surfer Rosa’ by The Pixies a big personal favorite of singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain. Krist Novoselic met Kurt Cobain in 1985, Nirvana were formed in 1987 with Chad Channing on drums and they soon signed to Sub Pop records. ‘Bleach’ was produced and engineered by Jack Endino, a guy who was experienced in the underground scene, ending up producing the likes of Tad, Mudhoney and Babes In Toyland. Nirvana’s debut doesn’t deviate radically from the sound the likes of Mudhoney were achieving at the time, although a song like ‘About A Girl’ certainly had a poppier edge than anything many of Nirvana’s contemporaries were producing. ‘About A Girl’ is a wonderful song actually, and a signpost of what was to come later. First we have two loud, distorted pieces of guitar music, growled or semi-shouted vocals. ‘Blew’ is nothing to write home about, ‘Floyd The Barber’ has good dynamics and works well. Following those two songs, ‘About A Girl’ stands out a mile, a lovely melody and vocal performance. ‘School’ has an addictive sounding, dirty guitar riff and a very powerful, screamed vocal performance. ‘Love Buzz’ had actually been a very early Nirvana single, but it doesn’t sound very out of place here, the bass guitar is good and the screamed ‘chorus’ rather entertaining! ‘Paper Cuts’ opens messily, a weary, pissed off Kurt comes in but the song never really goes anywhere and is less interesting than songs before it on the album.
‘Negative Creep’ opens the second side of the album with a fabulous guitar and bass riff, wonderful ‘alternative anthem’ style lyrics, screamed, stupendous vocals. With ‘About A Girl’ and maybe ‘School’ this works as a highlight of the record and really, is what ‘Bleach’ is all about. Another great guitar groove opens ‘Scoff’, ‘Swap Meet’ has more dirty riffing guitars – you get the idea. ‘Swap Meet’ is actually a favourite of mine, but there you go. ‘Mr Moustache’ is a thrashy, messy kind of song, ‘Sifting’ more considered, ‘Big Cheese’ slightly daft, but highly entertaining all the same. ‘Downer’ ends the album with more of the same, more grunge guitars, more screaming. ‘About A Girl’ apart, the album suffers from a lack of variety, suffers from the same sound being used all over the record. Having said that, this album is very easy to listen to if you like this kind of music.