Most helpful positive review
Gothic Blues Rocks
on 20 July 2012
Nick Cave's alternative project Grinderman released this second (and allegedly final) album in 2010, and it sits impressively alongside the band's 2007 debut. For me, the earlier album scores slightly higher with its more distinctive mix of the odd ballad and the full-on punk sound of songs such as Get It On and Love Bomb (there's no equivalent of this sound here). Nevertheless, Grinderman 2 certainly impresses with its fuller, and more ambitious (and, I would say, bluesy) sound, and (as you might expect) another set of poetic, macabre and (at times) brilliantly scathing lyrics. Indeed, sound-wise, Cave's newly restored guitar playing and Martin Casey's pulsating bass-lines are particularly impressive here.
The album kicks off with the superb Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man, whose deceptively mellow opening bars of Cave's guitar soon transform into the album's trademark sound of pounding bass and searing, feedback-infused guitar. The song features Cave's wailing vocal as he introduces one of the album's themes (as featured on the cover) of all things lupine, 'I was Mickey Mouse, he was the Big Bad Wolf!'. Next up is another standout, Worm Tamer, whose backbeat and rhythm outshines that of the album opener, and features an amazing accompaniment of Warren Ellis' electric violin/viola, organ and (maybe even) electric bouzouki, plus the magical sound of Cave rhyming 'serpent wrangler' with 'untangle her'.
In a similar vein, both of Kitchenette and the album's closer Bellringer Blues are slower, blues-based, but typically powerful near-ballads, both very impressive, with the former being a particular lyrical tour-de-force ('What's this husband of yours ever given to you, Oprah Winfrey on a plasma screen, and a brood of jug-eared buck-toothed imbe ciles the ugliest kids I've ever seen'). At the slightly more 'commercial' end of the spectrum, When My Baby Comes is even closer to ballad format, with a heavenly chorus, before the song (in trademark fashion) morphs into a blistering guitar (and bass-) laden conclusion, whilst Palaces Of Montezuma is the album's obvious single, closer in style to more recent Bad Seeds material, and containing the other killer lyric on the album - and one of Cave's best ever lines - 'I give to you the spinal cord of JFK, wrapped in Marilyn Monroe's negligee'. Once heard, never forgotten!
It is (on reflection) quite tempting to give the album 5 stars, but the inclusion of a couple of throwaway songs (What I Know and Evil) lead me to just the 4.