« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Album review: Grinderman, 'Grinderman 2'

51wtfxe4FmL__SS500_ Be it as a songwriter, screenwriter ("The Proposition") or novelist ("The Death of Bunny Munro," "And the Ass Saw the Angel"), Australian singer Nick Cave is a man of words, and he excels at constructing unforgettable scenes filled with emotions at the edge, whether anger, obsession, vindication, degradation, regret or some combination thereof.

Case in point: The purest love song on "Grinderman 2," the second album from Cave’s newest band, is called "Evil," and it’s set in a rented hotel room where the narrator’s clinging to a lover. "Who needs the stars?" he wonders affectionately. "You are the stars." It’s a beautiful sentiment, except that as he’s listing all the things she’s replaced --  the moon, TV, children -- voices behind him are screaming, "Evil rising!," while at the other end of a phone line a man is breathing heavily. Ah, love.

In the three decades-plus that Cave has been making music -- whether as the frenzied singer of both Boys Next Door and the Birthday Party, or with his long-running backing band the Bad Seeds -- he has been a blues singer in the John Lee Hooker vein, a weirdo pop crooner recalling Lee Hazlewood and a flat-out rocker a la Iggy Pop. On "Grinderman 2," he combines them all to create a maniacal egotist who proudly boasts on "Worm Tamer" that "my baby calls me the Loch Ness monster / Two great big humps and then I’m gone."

Throughout the album, Cave’s band lets loose with a din of electric guitars and heavy bass. If at times he leans on conceits that he’s overused in the past -- he dots his narratives with creeps such as the executioner with a glass eye on "Kitchenette," and too often sets his songs in the Wild West -- his skill at crafting work drenched with the blood and tears of human flaws remains unparalleled, and makes "Grinderman 2" an essential rock and roll document.

-- Randall Roberts


"Grinderman 2"


Three and a half stars

Comments () | Archives (0)


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: