Credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns

The problem with current college-radio rock is that most so-called alternative bands desperately want to sound normal. On their collar-grabbing second album, Nevermind, and their first for a major label, the Seattle trio Nirvana never entertain that notion. The music — fuzz-blast guitars, throbbing bass — roars and spits with enough in-your-face bluster to make your compact disc skip; left-of-center rock rarely sounds as alive as the metallic punk of ”Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the album’s first single. Adding to the music’s edginess, though, are the lyrics. The characters in singer-guitarist Kurt Cobain’s songs all seem vaguely pathological-and oblivious to it. Cobain’s strange idea of a love song, ”Come as You Are,” has a refrain of ”And I swear that I don’t have a gun,” as if that’s supposed to be comforting; in other songs, he mutters lines like ”the animals I’ve trapped have all become my pets.” Nirvana may not stand a chance of selling anywhere near as many records as Guns N’ Roses, but don’t tell Cobain; you never know how he’ll react. A-

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