Music Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

by Justin Wilder
Special to iVoryTowerz

Nick Cave is one smooth bastard. Frontman for The Bad Seeds and Grinderman, he has written soundtracks for feature films (and done a few star turns in those films) as well as writing The Proposition — one of the best westerns of the last twenty-five years. Now, at the age of 50, Cave has released an album with The Bad Seeds which will no doubt appear on many Top 10 lists at the end of the year.

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is a fantastic record that builds on Cave's 2007 release Grinderman, which heroically focused, maybe too heavily, on a heavily distorted Stooges punk clatter. The clatter is still strong and exciting here but it is much more focused, and is paired with a Doors-esque wall of sound. The simplicity of the song structures and steady bass lines anchor the dissonant, static guitar lines and Cave's abstract lyrics.

Abstract doesn't necessarily mean inaccessible though. The songs are chock full of sex, dangerous women in red (and black), death, literary references (Bukowski), and religion (Lazarus). While this all seems so serious, with the exception of the fantastic "Jesus of the Moon" in which the character leaves his lover "curled up like a child," Cave avoids the romantic tone that was so prevalent on the brilliant The Boatman's Call (1997).

On Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, Cave employs a sharp wit that he honed on Grinderman songs like "No Pussy Blues." In the frantic "'We Call Upon the Author"', a song that preaches against God, self-importance and Cave himself, he yells: "Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!" The title track, is a dark, comedic song which follows "Larry" as he flails his way through New York and LA. In the soul-psychedelia of "Midnight Man," Cave yells, "Everybody's coming round to my place!" as if he was propositioning the listener to crank up the volume and join in the party.

And what a party it is. Melodic and easily accessible without being too simple, Cave writes about characters that would make Tom Waits and Bob Dylan jealous. On the brilliant last track, "More News From Nowhere," Cave asks: "Don't it make you feel so sad / Don't the blood rush to your feet / That everything you did today / Tomorrow will be obsolete?"

I think you've made a record you will be remembered by Nick, don't worry.

(Promotional photo of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds from Mute Records. The band continues its European tour with an appearance in Lisbon, Portugal, tomorrow, March 10. To see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds play the title track from their latest release, please check below.)

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