Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
finds Nick Cave back at the helm of his long-term band The Bad Seeds after some impressive soundtrack work--2005's The Assassination of Jesse James
--and a busman's holiday in the raw, rocking Grinderman. As the title suggests, Lazarus
finds Cave returning to familiar themes of God and redemption, although some of the raw poise and wild-eyed humour that resurfaced in Grinderman
remains: take the opening title track, which retells the Biblical story of the resurrection of Lazarus as transposed onto the sleazy, poverty-stricken backdrop of modern-day New York City. Musically, the likes of "Moonland" and "Night of the Lotus Eaters" have a swampy feel, all skittering drums, simmering bass and smoky organ riffs; elsewhere, there are rockers that tie on dissonant guitars without losing their dissonant touch ("Lie Down Here"). Probably the album highlight comes with "We Call Upon the Author", a sprawling, "Sister Ray"-like chugger that shows off Cave's skill for magnificent, sung-shouted narratives: "Now mixamatoid kids roam the streets, we've shunned them from the greasy grind/The poor little things, they look so sad and old as they mount us from behind". --Louis Pattison
Watch out, here comes the fourteenth Bad Seeds album. The garage sound is still there, the deep baritone is still there, the sideburns are still there, but what's new is a pyschedelic, farfisa-driven swirl as well as a more stable, traditional rock feel.
As a child, Cave claims to have be traumatized by the tale of Lazarus. ''We are all! in awe of the greatest of Christ's miracles... but I couldn't help but wonder how Lazarus felt about it,'' the black-haired one says. Cave's Lazarus finds himself unwillingly raised in New York full of confusion: ''I can hear chants & incantations & some guy is mentioning me in his prayers!!! I don't know what it is but there is definitely something going on upstairs''. The album also takes in the escapology of Harry Houdini - whom Cave classes as the second greatest escapologist after 'Larry' himself.
The Night of the Lotus Eaters, written with Warren Ellis, (haunting lyrics, thumping repetitive beasts, rock guitars and eerie percussion) is for all the traditional Seeds fans who like to be scared at night.
For those who like a little more humour in their gothic rock, there is plenty... Try these quips on for size: ''He had a psychotic episode on a dude ranch that involved a bottle of ammonia'' or ''I feel like a vacuum cleaner, a complete sucker''. And whilst We Call Upon the Author to Explain uses more than two turntables and a microphone, in true morose style, it lists all the things that are wrong with the world: '' O rampant discrimination/mass poverty/third world debt/infectious disease/ global inequality and deepening socio-economic divisions...We Call Upon the Author to explain''. Indeed.
But there's something more Springsteen than traditional Cave in More News From Nowhere and Hold On To Yourself, which may have traditional fans squirming, but entice new ones.
Clearly with Today's Lesson and Lie Down Here (& Be My Girl), Cave has lyrically moved on from moribund biblical subjects to sexual biblical subjects. He admits at 50 to be just as obsessed with sex as he was in his youth.
The Noble and Webster cover announces this is going to be a biggie. And, accompanied by the viral trailers on YouTube, it may just be his biggest yet.
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! will not just raise the dead, it will raise the spirits of Bad Seed fans old and new. --Susie Goldring
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