One of the few living artists to have achieved almost untouchable status, Nick Cave's career in music began over thirty years ago when he formed what became known as The Birthday Party. Since then - via a much-expostulated heroin and alcohol addiction - his work with long-time backing band The Bad Seeds has made him one of the most eulogised songwriters of all time. His latest between-Bad Seeds-albums project is Grinderman, a band which features three of his Bad Seeds collaborators (Warren Ellis, Martin P. Casey and Jim Sclavunos) - themselves no strangers to secondary undertakings. The press release describes them as 'foul mouthed, noisy, hairy and damn well old enough to know better', an eerily accurate illustration, since - despite the fact that they have more facial hair between them to knit a rug - these old codgers really know how to rock out. Musically, Grinderman is a largely garage-fuelled album, with blistering flickers of distorted guitar scattered liberally across most of the tracks; lyrically, it's a lot less elegiac than Cave's usual fare, though he's unquestionably still got an eye for a great line: 'I sent her every type of flowe / I played her guitar by the hour / I petted her revolting little chilhuahua / But still, she just 'didn't want to''. Lines like these (from the excellent No Pussy Blues) are spewed forth in that memorable, attitudal drone mostly over a stripped-down, minimal backing track (as heard on Get It On and Depth Change Ethel), but there's also some brooding, skewed pop-noir riffs on display (Go Tell the Woman) and even bizarre bee impressions over a frenetic rock 'n' roll riff on Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars). To the casual fan, Grinderman remains an unessential (if recommended) listen, while hardened fans may be disappointed by the seemingly insouciant nature of the compositions. Nonetheless, it's a satisfying gap-filler, even if it wasn't intended as such.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Wednesday 7th March 2007 | Album Review