(Special contribution by Matt Spikes)
After thirteen albums as a band, one would think that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds would run out of ideas, or at least go back to themes of their previous efforts and expand on them. Thankfully, that is not the case with their newest record Dig!! Lazarus, Dig!!! After the dirty-blues project Grinderman in 2007, Cave and his assorted Bad Seeds return to their day job full of energy and a sharp wit that permeates the album by way of the grooves and Cave’s quasi-blasphemous lyrics.
The opening title track imagines Lazarus risen again in the 21st century, shortening his name to the much simpler Larry and experiencing all the pleasures of New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Over swirling organ and distorted guitar parts, Cave tells Larry’s story of fame and sexual gratification, only to end up a junkie in a New York City Jail. Themes of isolation, sadness and overindulgence continue throughout the disc, usually paired with a driving backbeat, rollicking bass grooves, staccato guitar parts and omnipresent organ. The music is a grab bag of different styles where a punishing backbeat of revenge and excitement slides easily into a faraway drone of desperation.
Cave spends more time speaking his words than he does singing the short hooks, which force the listener to focus more on the lyrical content than the notes he doesn’t bother singing. This is to Cave’s advantage, for he’s a better wordsmith than lead singer on this album. His delivery is reminiscent of a late 60’s poet (think of a more mature Jim Morrison) using his lyrics to discuss topics as emotionally heavy as the Holocaust, violence and debauchery. Everything is approached with a wink and a smile, however because Cave and the Bad Seeds don’t let the words get them down. They just happily spread the message.
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – “Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!”