Love Buzz is the debut studio album by the American grunge band Nirvana, released in February 1987. The album was recorded at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, Washington from February to June 1987. It features two charting singles: "Been A Son" and perhaps the records most well-known hit on mainstream radio, "Sliver". Love Buzz peaked at #42 in the United States on the Billboard 200 and went gold there and in other countries.
In the heady alternative musical climate of 1987, Love Buzz did not receive particular attention. Several critics criticized about the duration of the album being way too short to be a studio album, however, were enthusiastic about the band's debut release. In the UK, NME referred to the band as "one of rock's brightest hopes." Their debut single, "Sliver", prompted industry observers and fans to draw parallels between Nirvana and The Sex Pistols, with some even touting Nirvana as the "American Sex Pistols". Love Buzz would not garner the widespread acclaim of Nirvana's subsequent releases, but received a generally favourable critical reaction. NME awarded the album 7/10, foreshadowing the band's future success by describing it as "one of those flawed but satisfying debuts that suggests Nirvana's talents will really blossom later on." The magazine heavily criticised the album titles track, writing that it "breaks the momentum of Love Buzz horribly, throwing all of Nirvana's tortured sensitivity out of the window and leaving them sounding like beer-gutted losers from the class of '76". Q magazine, who also drew comparisons with The Sex pistols, awarded the album three out of five stars, equating to a "good" album, and wrote, "British teenagerhood has never been grumpier... the best bits rival Pink Floyd, and Radiohead." Record Collector also awarded the album three out of five stars, describing it as a "promising debut record", and commending its lead single, "It contains their 'biggest' single in 'Sliver.' A 12-bar blues jam with added crunch." A consistent theme in British reviews was that the album's first half (where its two singles are placed), outweighed that of the second half, which often descended into grunge and post-punk stylings.
Stateside, several music publications gave the album positive reviews. Rolling Stone wrote, "What elevates them to fab charm is not only the feedback and strumming fury of their guitar work and the dynamism of their whisper-to-a-scream song structures, but the way their solid melodies and sing-along choruses resonate pop appeal." Billboard said of the album, "This band is primed to blast onto the worldwide scene with initial modern rock track "Sliver," a tense, guitar-dominated number that appears in unexpurgated form on this debut album. Certain tracks here may remind listeners of The Sex Pistols (thanks largely to Kurt Cobain's vocal mannerisms and overall guitar texturing), but lyrics have enough bite to make it on their own. "Blew", "Love Buzz" and "Big Cheese" all contain excitement enough to heat up at target radio markets." Entertainment Weekly gave the album a "C" rating, opining that it "mates Smiths-type self-consciousness with dramatic Sex Pistols-like vocals and guitar, with Iggy Pop-style heavy but crunchy." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic also drew comparisons with The Sex Pistols, writing, "Nirvana's debut album, Love Buzz, is a promising collection that blends The Sex Pistols's anthemic rock with short, instrumental passages and an enthralling single-guitar attack that is alternately gentle and bracingly noisy. The group has difficulty writing a set of songs that are as compelling as their sound, but when they do hit the mark -- such as on "Polly", "Downer", and the self-loathing breakthrough single "Sliver" -- the band achieves a rare power that is both visceral and intelligent." Erlewine named singles "Sliver" and "Been A Son", along with "Blew", as the best tracks on the album. Mario Mundoz of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "This Seattle band debut doesn't really deliver anything you haven't heard before, steering too close to Smiths-like melodies and trying ever so hard to be depressed in the way other punk bands popularized. Occasionally, though, it does offer clever lyrics and good hooks." Robert Christgau did not recommend the album, but named "Sliver" as a "choice cut".