Nirvana will always be remembered for their generation-defining slacker anthem "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which was the jewel in the crown of their best-selling masterpiece, Nevermind. However, the world-renowned grungers’ comparatively (and frustratingly) overlooked followup, In Utero, which went above and beyond anyone’s expectations, is the definitive product.
Strongly benefiting from Steve Albini’s rawer production, the band finally manages to find the perfect balance between Nevermind’s flawless grunge-pop and Bleach’s murky metallic sludge. While some of the dissonance admittedly can be a little overly extreme at times, especially on the screaming “Scentless Apprentice” and “Milk It”, this looser approach ultimately works wonders, resulting in some of Nirvana’s best songs. “Heart-Shaped Box”, “Dumb”, “Pennyroyal Tea”, and “All Apologies” are the undeniable classics, but there’s lots of other hidden gems to enjoy as well: the personal “Serve the Servants”, the disturbing “Rape Me”, the offbeat “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”, the hilarious “Very Ape”, and the completely insane “Tourette’s”. Kurt Cobain’s songwriting, while still as famously incomprehensible as ever (“Sunburn with freezer burn/Choking on the ashes of her enemy”), is more poignant and mature as well.
While In Utero definitely isn’t for everyone, for all angsty grunge-loving teens who need something to relate to (or at the very least, something to annoy their parents with), it is highly recommended.