There is a mischievousness to 'Nevermind', immediately apparent on the album cover photo of a baby swimming after a dollar bill on a hook but there is anger too, and sadness at the corruption of innocence, emotions which surge out of the speakers in the thrilling electric charge of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'.
The elusive yet somehow tangible truths in Cobain's songwriting are located in the sound and the fury, the hurting tone of his voice, the alternately deadpan introversion and raw rage of his delivery. Addressing (and rebelling against) generational despair, Nirvana perform as if it is a matter of life and death, which retrospect tells us it really was.
Krist Novoselic's bass lines are liquid and mesmerising, Dave Grohl's drums are frenzied yet direct, the grungy fuzz of Cobain's rhythm guitar is adorned by elegant, fluid lead motifs. Much was made of the group's loud/quiet dynamic, but their simple template embodies a world of contrasts: intimate and expansive, melancholic and furious, deep and meaningless. And Cobain's voice carries us through his complex interior world like a spirit guide.
'Nevermind' is an album undiminished by time, as powerful now as it was 20 years ago.