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Turn the Tides: 'Nevermind' the Pop Polish

  • Dan Schantz Entertainment Writer
  • 2002 5 May
  • COMMENTS
<I>Turn the Tides</I>: 'Nevermind' the Pop Polish
38th Parallel - Turn the Tides

I was a freshman in college the first time I heard Nirvana's album Nevermind, but I had no idea just how influential that CD would become. The impact of Nevermind is still being felt more than 10 years later, few places more strongly than 38th Parallel's new album, Turn the Tides.

The new disc features crunching guitars, a rhythm section that's funky enough to impel both you and the song, and other noises that punctuate the music before inverting into something far more melodic and pop-inspired.

No fewer than six vocalists share credit on the album, which mixes virtually every sort of vocalization: singing, talking, rapping, whispering, screaming and mumbling. The resulting musical structure is often thick and compelling, a well-crafted effort.

But as with most revolutions, the undertow has pulled the Nirvana Effect toward the mainstream. While Nirvana was careful to keep their sound raw, this album is nothing but polish. While Cobain's voice was never beautiful, 38th Parallel's "good cop" mode is unbelievably radio friendly and remarkably similar to 1980s arena-rock. And while the equations "pleasant vocals = good message" and "dissonant vocals = angst-filled and non-Christian foil" can be effective, the device usually wears thin after four or five tracks -- much less eight or 10. These annoyances aren't fatal, though, to the overarching quality of the effort.

So would I recommend Turn the Tides? Absolutely, to anyone looking for well-crafted rap-core, softened for radio-friendliness.