By: Dennis Cook
Like gears grinding up a steep hill, the Bad Seeds emerge, ambivalent about resurrection and raging hard, spit flying as their wild eyes scan the human landscape, finding us in need of salvation but having far too much fun to fully take God's hand. The question of Nick Cave's brilliance is pretty settled but Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (Anti) finds the boys feistier than ever, ready to spit in the Creator's eye to get a rise out of ol' White Beard.
He said everything is messed up around here
Everything is banal and jejune
There is a planetary conspiracy against the likes of you and me
In this idiot constituency of the moon
Well, he knew exactly who to blame
And we call upon the author to explain
Where 2004's unrelenting genius Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus bent a knee to love and the Lord, Lazarus proclaims, "We're gonna have a real good time" ("Today's Lesson"), digging around in the waistband of our jeans for some fantastically earthy Gnosticism. That they pull out the jawbone of an ass instead of steaming junk when they go rooting only testifies to the weird, deep flesh they're probing. Perhaps fired up by last year's positively raunchy Grinderman experience ("No Pussy Blues" anyone?), Cave and his Seeds shake and rattle here like men new to the business yet wiser than any youngster could ever be.
Anchored to barbed wire guitars, piano, organ and forward tumbling rhythms, Lazarus is lyrically relentless, a year's worth of ideas crammed into just under an hour, with a jittery instrumental character that leaves one uneasy, ideas mostly sketched but with enough dangling threads to keep one pondering what they were after. A live-on-the-floor feel dominates, and the entire band shows themselves slinkier creatures than anyone may have guessed at. They growl wordlessly and hips slip as they track down "Jesus of the Moon" and "More News From Nowhere." It's rock, no doubt, but absolutely unhindered by anyone else's conception of the word. The elastic clang of "Night of the Lotus Eaters" or mercury blue slide of "Hold On To Yourself" defy categorization except the general heading of "good fucking music." Like the gal in "Hold," they just rub the magic lamp between their thighs and hope the genie comes out singing.
If churches had hymnbooks like Lazarus (and Abattoir/Orpheus) folks might take to the gospel experience more readily. Within Cave and company's songs lies the weakness of our flesh and lapses of judgment AND our salvation. Each is imperfect but that's fitting for creatures of dust and breath, the very moistness that holds us together also our greatest weakness, always prone to evaporation just when we think we've reached incarnation.
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