Trust Nick Cave to gravitate toward one of the Bible's more interesting stories. Lazarus being raised from the dead by JC may be the inspiration for the title track of The Bad Seeds' fourteenth studio album, but it's not a metaphorical one; with over twenty years of musical experience under his belt, Cave's still-flourishing career is in no need of a resurrection.
Having established himself as one of the most potent, brilliant and just plain weird songwriters of the 20th century and beyond, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! sees Cave regroup The Bad Seeds after his numerous side projects of recent years (The Proposition - both script and soundtrack, and 2006's Grinderman exploit among them).
Grinderman's base, guttural blues sound certainly informs a lot of DLD!!!'s intentions; The Bad Seeds have never sounded quite as rollicking or dirty over the course of an entire album as they have here. See the opening grimy funk of the title track, the frazzled screeches of Lie Down Here, the gritty, Commotions-tinged Albert Goes West, or the unbearably tense B-movie horror of the superb Night of the Lotus Eaters. Cave's preacher-like persona is in full flourish here too, as drops of lyrical gold trip off his tongue like a politician's promise: "He opens her up like a love letter and enters her dreams", he snarls on the zippy Today's Lesson, while We Call Upon the Author protagonist proclaims "There's a planetary conspiracy against the likes of you and me".
There's an undeniable sense that this is a band so on top of their game that they seriously believe that they're the best in the business; considering they've made their best album in possibly ten years (since 1997's The Boatman's Call, some would argue), maybe they are. The 50-year old Cave gets better with age, too, channelling Gainsbourg and Morricone at intervals, but always ensuring that he's ultimately a singular songwriter and performer, a bona fide one-off. Above all else, though, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is simply a great, great album that's beautifully paced, brilliantly constructed and perfectly played.