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Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

"The record is a less sonically abrasive affair than the album Cave released last year with his side-project Grinderman, but it teems with as many musical and lyrical ideas as ever..."

Rating: 8 ½ / 10

Paul Nolan, 20 Feb 2008

Nick Cave’s latest album finds the singer tackling, amongst many other subjects, the story of Lazarus, a tale he says he was “traumatised” by as a youth. The record is a less sonically abrasive affair than the album Cave released last year with his side-project Grinderman, but it teems with as many musical and lyrical ideas as ever, and makes for a superb follow-up to the previous Bad Seeds offering, 2004’s brilliant double LP Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus.

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! appears to have been influenced by Cave’s recent film soundtrack work on the westerns The Proposition and The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, making imaginative use of loops, distortion and various atmospheric sound effects. The album commences with the title-track, in which Cave addresses the titular character whilst the Seeds chip in with the (extremely catchy) choral admonition, “Lazarus, dig yourself back in that hole”.

The first high point is reached with the magnificent ‘Moonland’, which sees Cave relocate Lazarus to the nocturnal streets of modern day New York over a musical backdrop of church organ, funky bass and piercing guitar. Even better is ‘We Call Upon The Author’, wherein the singer takes God to task for his conspicuous absence in times of crisis.

One of the most egregious misconceptions about Cave is that he's a somewhat po-faced purveyor of doom and gloom, when in fact he has an enviable gift for coming up with lines that actually bring a smile to your face (I can still hear the couplet “Eurydice appeared brindled in blood and she said to Orpheus/If you play that fucking thing down here I’ll stick it up your orifice!” all the way from 2004).

‘We Call Upon The Author’ showcases Cave’s biting humour to wonderful effect, particularly in the lines, “I feel like a vacuum cleaner, a complete sucker/It’s fucked up and he is a fucker/But what an enormous and encyclopaedic brain/I call upon the author to explain”.

Dig, Lazarus Dig!!! concludes with the electrifying rocker ‘Midnight Man’ and the eight minute ‘More News From Nowhere’, a lyrical tour de force in which Nick ruminates that, “It’s gettin’ strange in here/Yeah, it’s gettin’ stranger every year”. It may well be, but as long as we’ve got artists like Nick and the Bad Seeds to accompany us along the way, there’s no need to despair.

Rating: 8 ½ / 10
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