The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

The student news site of Davis High School

The Dart

Depression
Julia Adams, Journalist • May 15, 2024

Deconstructing Nirvana’s Bleach: A Grunge Masterpiece 

Deconstructing Nirvana’s Bleach: A Grunge Masterpiece 

Deconstructing Nirvana’s Bleach: A Grunge Masterpiece 

Released in 1898 with thirteen tracks, Nirvana’s debut album Bleach marked the raw and unfiltered beginning of Nirvana. It was the first record they released as Nirvana and it laid the foundation for them to later release multiple platinum albums and even win a Grammy. They would later go on to completely change and revolutionize the music industry with their platinum album, Nevermind. While Nevermind brought Nirvana into mainstream success and boosted their popularity, Bleach has a special place in the hearts of fans and music historians because it was Nirvanas first record. Without it, Nevermind probably wouldn’t exist. 

While Dave Grohl is a fan favorite when it comes to Nirvana and grunge music in general, being viewed as a cornerstone and major part of the band, he was not on this album. The album was made with Kurt Cobain on guitar and vocals, Krist Novoselic on bass, and Chad Channing on drums. Chad would later leave the band due to creative differences between him and the rest of the band, which paved the way for Dave Grohl to join the band just before they recorded Nevermind. He would later become the official drummer for the rest of the time that they played as a band.  

Emerging from the Seattle, Washington underground music scene, grunge is a subgenre of rock that is known for its distorted guitars and angst filled lyrics. Because of this, it was widely accepted by teenagers at the time. Nirvana also came from the underground music scene of Washington, with Kurt Coabin growing up in Aberdeen. Nirvana embodied grunge and channeled the frustration of teenagers into their music which helped them gain popularity with the teenagers at the time. 

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Bleach explores themes such as alienation, societal standards, and mental health. Kurt Cobain’s lyrics serve as a reflection of a sense of existential angst. This is shown in tracks such as “Negative Creep” and “School”, which are full of raw intensity and showcases the bands talent. The album opens with “Blew”, which sets the tone for the rest of the album.  

The lyrics of Nirvana’s Bleach resonated deeply with teenagers at the time of its release. Kurt Cobain’s lyrics struck a chord with listeners, talking about the existential angst and alienation that many teenagers at the time felt. It provided a voice for those who felt like they were not being heard, and the fact that Nirvana blew up so much gave teenagers that much more of a voice. With the release of Nevermind, Nirvana’s music was everywhere and it effectively conveyed their challenges to adults, making it easier for them to understand.  

Throughout Bleach, Cobain writes about struggling with issues of personal identity and self-worth. It gives a glimpse into the troubles that teenagers at the time faced trying to work through the uncertainties of the future.  

Musically, Bleach is known for its minimalistic approach. It was produced on a budget of just $606.17. The guitar work of Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic feels very out of control and all over the place, while Chad Channing’s drumming creates rhythm and pulls it all together, adding a sense of control.  

Furthermore, Bleach was ahead of its time and culture. It created a path for future generations of musicians and artists to follow and gave them the permission that they needed to make the art they wanted to make instead of sticking to societal norms. It showed people that things can be messy and chaotic and still be beautiful. Going against society became a trend for Nirvana and similar grunge bands at the time, and Bleach was a great start for this era of music. Its influence can still be heard in music that is being released today. Bands and musicians continue to take inspiration from the album. Beyond its role in shaping the grunge movement of the nineties, to this day, it still stands as a prime example of expressing yourself through art, and not worrying about what others will think when you do so.  

While the album didn’t achieve the commercial success that its successor, Nevermind, did, it still had a huge impact on the alternative music scene of the early 90s. The album paved the way for Nirvana’s evolution and lead to the creation of Nevermind. Artists such as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden have said that they used Bleach as an influence for their albums and music in general. Nirvana continues to affect the music industry today, even though it has been 30 years since Kurt Cobain passed.  

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About the Contributor
Savana Abel
Savana Abel, Journalist
My name is Savana, and I'm literally Stan Marsh if he was an 18 year old girl who loves music, wild west cowboys, and film?