Friday, March 23, 2007


It all looked pretty normal at first. Grinderman. New Cave et al. side project. Nick Cave, with regular collaborators Warren Ellis on bouzouki, fendocaster, violin, viola etc., Marty P Casey on bass and Jim Sclavunos on percussion. Nick Cave on vocals and, hang on, Nick Cave on electric guitar? What the hell's happening? Has the world gone topsy turvy? Not even the reassuring note that Mr Cave had not abandoned his ivory tinkling was enough to shake the nagging feeling that something odd was afoot.
Apparently, he decided to pick up and learn the instrument a few weeks before entering the studio with this particular half of the Bad Seeds with no material ready. And the record begins on an appropriate atonal note, Cave striking a nothing note on his new strat, before launching into 'Get it On', cave booming 'Kick those baboons and other motherfuckers out, and GET IT ON!', with a thumping, grinding (sorry) exhiliration not heard on a Cave record for over a decade, with the possible exceptions of 'Babe, I'm on Fire' from 2003s Nocturama and 'Get Ready for Love' from 2005s Abattoir Blues. These old men, replete with awe-inspiring facial hair and suitably dishevelled demeanour are a great and clearly intentional step away from the growing maturity and sophistication of the Bad Seeds. This is men well into middle age reclaiming their youth. And loving every second. And we're invited for the ride.
And what a ride.
This is not to say that these blokes are in any way deluding themselves into believing that they can reclaim lost years. On the frankly amazing 'No Pussy Blues', happily married Cave laments the lack of sexual attention received from the younger generation, bemoaning 'I changed the sheets on my bed/I combed the hair across my head/I sucked in my gut and still she said/that she just didn't want to', revealing an awareness of the ravages of age that some bands seem to struggle with (and yes, I'm referring mainly to the Rolling Stones). Not only that, but it reveals Cave in fine form lyrically. Ironically, this acknowledgement of age and the desire to be younger is conveyed with a wit and lyricism that seems unreachable by that younger bunch of bands; there's no 'lady/maybe/baby' rhymes here. Try 'flower/hour/chihuahua'. The growing influence of Cave's regular Bad Seeds collaborators is clear to see, adding a subtle new edge to the now trademark cave vigour and gothic humour. This is not to say that this newfound vim comes mutually exclusive of maturity and tenderness, as evidenced on 'When my ove Comes Down' and the woozy bar-room blues of 'Go Tell the Woman' and 'I Don't Need You (to Set Me Free)'.
Closing on first single 'Love Bomb', Grinderman is reassuringly chaotic, yet cohesive and, most importantly, awesome, to warrant inclusion in the growing pantheon of Cave-related classics.
4 stars

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