Grinderman 2

In 2006, Nick Cave, of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fame, started a band called Grinderman with, er, the Bad Seeds. Who sounded a lot like Nick Cave’s other ‘other’ band The Birthday Party. Incestuous beginnings aside, ‘debut’ album, the imaginatively titled _Grinderman_, was a raucous exciting slice of grimy bluesy rock, famously referencing unrequited lust on ‘No Pussy Blues’. Much fun was had by all.

_Grinderman 2_ unsurprisingly continues where the previous album left off, but titles like ‘Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man’ and ‘Worm Tamer’ hint at something more original to come. At only nine tracks long, it is a tighter affair than their previous outing and comes complete with a glorious but disturbing lyrics booklet. Lyrically, the tone is, if anything, darker than before, and this is matched by the imagery in the booklet. There is still that odd mix of dark humour, sensuality and poignancy that makes Nick Cave such a disquieting figure, although the profanity is toned down. In ‘Palaces of Montezuma’, we hear Cave giving “The spinal cord of JFK/Wrapped in Marilyn Monroe’s negligee” to his lover; in ‘Kitchenette’, Cave questions the wife of a man who gave her only “Oprah Winfrey on a plasma screen/And a brood of jug-eared buck-toothed imbeciles”. Despite the first song’s claim Mickey Mouse stuff it ain’t. Cave is exploring the depths of human depravity.

Unfortunately, it also isn’t an album of the strength of _Grinderman_. Musically, it is perhaps a little more experimental but ultimately it breaks no new barriers. It is a discordant, grubby and unsettling listen, even without the lyrics. But sadly something about _Grinderman 2_ misses the thrilling intensity of their first record. Although perhaps a more consistent album, none of the songs have the explosiveness of ‘Get It On’ or the understated beauty of ‘Man In the Moon’.
Penultimate track ‘Palaces of Montezuma’ is dare I say it, conventional and (whisper it) could even be called radio-friendly. Perhaps surprisingly for a Nick Cave production, this makes ‘Palaces of Montezuma’ the stand-out track on the album. Fans of the darker side of the Bad Seeds may not approve.

Overall, there’s nothing here to directly disappoint but also nothing to make you stop what you’re doing, sit up and take notice. And for a band with such credentials, maybe that is a disappointment after all. However, there is no question that this is still more exciting than 90% of the new music out there, despite being written by a band with an average age of about 50. Young upstarts, take note.


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