Thursday, April 26, 2007

Grinderman - Grinderman

As an honorary member of The Sons Of Lee Marvin, Nick Cave is an acknowledged bad ass. He knows it, but the great thing is, you typically don’t hear him going on and on about how cool he is. Cave is one of those rare individuals that just seem to exude it.
Grinderman, the curiously labeled Nick Cave side-project that really isn’t a side-project in the strictest sense of the word (count it: almost half of The Bad Seeds play on the album), shows him making quite a racket for a guy that will turn 50 this September.
He’s been showing his age on his last few albums, and that’s not to suggest that they’ve been necessarily bad albums; they’ve just been filled with the grand arrangements of an elder statesman who seemed fairly content with turning into rock’s supreme literary balladeer.
Apparently, Cave wanted to make at least one more noisy rock album before contending with how the autumn of his career will ultimately take shape. Grinderman’s self-titled “debut” is the result of that revision, as it hints at the Birthday Party noise that brought Cave his initial acclaim as well as some garage rock elements that wouldn’t have felt out of place on The Stooges’ “comeback” album if someone had told Iggy that his new material sucked ass.
Nick makes Iggy sound like a retard, even when both gentlemen set out to remind the public of their cocksmith abilities. While Pop compares his dick to a tree, Cave harks that he “drank panther piss and fucked the girls you’re probably married to” (“Get It On”). There’s a big part of me that thinks Nick has seen the scene from Anchorman where Brian Fontana whips out his secret stash of Sex Panther; Grinderman is filled with hints of this type of lyricism, so you know it’s good.
Cave is very much aware of his increasing age and the effects it’s taking on the public’s image of him as well as his own self-image. “No Pussy Blues,” “My face is finished/My body’s gone” he admits before tries to seduce a young fan. Even after some preparation (“I changed the sheets on my bed/I combed the hairs across my head/I sucked in my gut and still she said/That she just didn’t want to”) he yells “Damn!” before a distorted wah-wah guitar kicks him in his old ass while screaming “I got the no pussy blues!”
On “Go Tell The Women,” Cave (who sounds much more adapted at piano than his amateurish guitar playing would indicate) plods along with an out of tune guitar phrase, over a repeated mandolin and drum shuffle while deadpanning: “All we wanted was a little consensual rape in the afternoon/And maybe a bit more in the evening.”
Even at his increasing age, Nick hasn’t lost his dark sense of humor.
My favorite Nick Cave album has always been Live Seeds from 1993. I like it because it’s raw and it provides the set with an unhinged feeling, which makes them more powerful. Grinderman is very similar in a sense, as the racket Cave and his cohorts create not only illustrate the humor of the material; they manage to make the shadows of them even darker. This ultimately makes Grinderman one of Cave’s brightest moments even if his days are getting shorter.
One can only hope that other iconic rock artists have a mid-life crisis like this.

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