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The Bad Seeds continue to germinate spectacular fruit
on 16 March 2008
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are incapable of making a poor album .Dig Lazarus Dig , their 14th , doesn't break their hot trot either . Even so it's the album most in thrall to another facet of Nick Cave's muse. The Grinderman side project has infused this album with a scouring malevolence and deep and dirty ambience. It throbs with subterranean deep bass lines, brutal slashes of guitar and stick on bones percussion. The up-tempo songs have the acerbic impact of a rusty shiv while the slower numbers crawl with serpentine grace allowing Cave more space to exhort his usual bevy of words about exotic and fertile characters .
Dig Lazarus Dig , as well as being populated with Caves usual colourful array of characters is possibly his most comic album to date .Larry off the brilliant churning riff title track is some kind of celebrity flailing round American cities . "Mr Sandman The Inseminator" enters the dreams of "Little Janie" to pulsating blues bass and shivery mandocaster on "Today's Lesson". "Midnight Man" features ...well the Midnight Man to Mick Harvey's relentless equilibrating organ.
Pitter pattering conga , quivering cuica and Martyn P Casey's thumping bass usher the first person "MoonLand" while "Night Of The Lotus Eaters" has the most sepulchral bass on a Nick Cave album since "From Her To Eternity ". "Albert Goes West" goes all Jesus And Mary Chain and features man who "Had a psychotic episode on dude ranch that involved a bottle of ammonia " . The "sha la-lal la,s" at the end are great. "We Call Upon The Author" is an audacious rant against god interweaving in between funked bass, viola, poking guitars /keyboards and where Cave " feels like a vacuum cleaner!!! A complete sucker". "Hold Onto Yourself" is a more hushed affair with horror movie atmospherics and plangent organ.. "Lie Down Here (& Be My Girl)" is an exhortation to some femme fatale whose leery guitar matches Caves intentions in a tale where "We've been scribbled in the margins of a story that is patently absurd".
"Jesus Of The Moon" is a lithe undulating ballad with viola and Warren Ellis's distinctive flute. More news From Nowhere" is nigh on eight minutes of bleakly comic observations where "Here comes Alina with two black eyes/ she's given her self a transfusion / she's filled herself with panda blood to avoid all the confusion ". A repetitive guitar hook and more funk edged bass propel Cave along his way.
Dig Lazarus Dig will never be my favourite Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds album. I prefer the eclectic "Henrys Dream " , the awesome "Boatmans Call " confessional or the classy lugubrious strings of "The Good Son" but this is still another terrific album. Those who prefer the wracked hollow eyed blues of his first album - before he went all cabaret (as they see it) may actually find this a return to form. I can think of very few artists around today who continue to hold my interest 14 albums in (Brian Eno , The Blue Nile , Scott Walker -though the last two are so slow to produce material I fear they will never reach fourteen -)but this band do . And they never ever disappoint .