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The art of seduction: Nick Cave offers a compelling lesson

August 3, 2010 | 10:28 am

Nick_Cave_EPA_2 It comes near the end of the upcoming Grinderman album. Song No. 7, to be specific, for those who still believe in the grouping of musical numbers as a collective work. It hits like a blindsided strike to the face -- a lyric that serves as a menacing put-down and an aggressively persuasive come-on all at once.

The vocals are hard to describe. Nick Cave doesn't so much sing as leer. The guitars, likewise, don't riff so much as scrape. The instrument streaks over the predatory rhythm, at times sounding as if it's mimicking a trumpet. It's dark, sketchy and a little uncomfortable. If Cave wasn't trying to seduce a married woman in her kitchen, it could be the soundtrack Darwyn Cooke's graphic-noir adaption of Donald E. Westlake's "The Hunter." 

"What's this husband of yours ever given to you?" Cave wonders just as the drums move in for in for the kill. "Oprah Winfrey on the plasma screen?" Then the tone of the song, "Kitchenette," starts to really get off the rails. At the start of the cut, Cave was digging into gingerbread cookies, but in a span of two minutes the pleasantries have long been forgotten. The lead guitar turns into a siren, and one braces for an explosion, but the music never gets too reckless. 

The chaos here is controlled, moving at a crawl's space. There's no violence -- the games are all in the head, and Cave is winning. He flashes his teeth even as he shows a bit of vulnerability, howling that he just wants the object of his affection to be his girlfriend, and then slams her children as "bucktoothed imbeciles" who happen to be the "ugliest" kids he's ever seen. Amazingly, it gets Cave even closer to his prey. After all, her no-good kids aren't her fault -- just a reminder of her poor choice in men. And being nice? There's no prize for nice in the world Cave is unraveling. 

The album, "Grinderman 2," is not all so warped and manipulative. The very next track, in fact, "Palaces of Montezuma," is a thing of beauty, and could even be a slow dance at a wedding. It's due Sept. 14 from locals Anti- Records, and Grinderman -- a Cave-led outfit that's a tad more lyrically direct than his work in the Bad Seeds -- will bring the emotional whiplash to the Music Box @ Fonda on Nov. 30. Tickets for the show, which was announced Monday, will go on sale Aug. 20, but there are sure to be pre-sales.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Nick Cave in 2008. Credit: Kiko Huesca / EPA


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