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Grinderman - Grinderman 2 (2010)
Producer: Nick Launay, Grinderman
Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man
When My Baby Comes
What I Know
Palaces of Montezuma
Released in 2010, this is the second self-titled album by the garage-rock, Nick Cave fronted outfit, Grinderman. The album is affectionately known around these here parts as Grinderman 2.
Allow me to just say it from the off: the entire Grinderman project is the kind of ill-conceived idea that would see most musicians dead and buried, especially after rolling such a proposal out as you begin to fall the wrong side of fifty years of age. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' brilliantly consistent career has rarely dipped in quality of output, and has at the very worst tripped at the occasional hurdle (Nocturama, anyone?), so I was as surprised as anyone, when, in 2007, the first Grinderman album hurtled into our hi-fis and raised a few eyebrows. The question on the tip of many a fan's tongue, was this to be the end of the Bad Seeds?
Thankfully not, as the following year saw the Bad Seeds' Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! top many critics' shortlists for best album of the year, and while the record had clearly drawn inspiration from the laid-back garage-rock approach of Grinderman, it remained a defiantly classical Bad Seeds record, pondering over the usual topics that beg Nick Cave's wonderment: a twist on Biblical events and a raging lust for the fairer sex.
Two years on, Grinderman once again took the reigns of their musical steed in hand. Early reports indicated that this would be a more polished and elegant recording, and early reports were right. But just how far can you polish a turd? Grinderman are frickin' awesome but are the aural equivalent of being tied down, naked, inside a cattery and having cat-nip all over your person. It's just not very pleasant. So, while Nick Cave's merry men have learnt a thing or two where production is concerned, this is clearly the uglier recording, and no amount of spit and shine was able to change that.
Yes, to reiterate, Grinderman 2 is an unsightly recording but is all the better for it. It takes the raw energy which made the original project so captivating and gives it a shot of unadulterated adrenalin and testosterone. The subject of each song seems to zig-zag wildly between licentious cravings and Neanderthal instincts, to the point where I'm sure that some of these songs are illegal in certain countries (the gang-rape of a male teenage protagonist as featured in When My Baby Comes will be enough to make your blood run cold, if not, then the extensive musical outro will).
"I woke up this morning and thought, 'what am I doing here?' Well, I saw my brother and he starts raging," is but the start of this hellish affair, as Nick Cave denotes a violent experience capable of committing arson upon the senses. The sharp bass refrain burrows itself deep inside your consciousness, as Cave's distasteful rapture makes the Dead Weather look like Justin Bieber. Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man will rattle your cage and more.
The sleazy Worm Tamer could only have been written by the Grinderman outfit, containing a redoubtable three minutes of instrumentation and yet memorable and h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s lyrics. "Well, my baby calls me the Loch Ness monster, two great big humps and then I'm gone!" By the time the considered introduction to Heathen Child revs its engines you're most likely to be a quivering, hysterical heap upon the floor. A shame, really, as Heathen Child provides the very antithesis to most people's expectations of popular music - mystifying lyrics and a rhythm section that could raise the dead.
The only time the album can afford you time to breathe is for the beautifully composed Palaces of Montezuma. Palaces is a musical and lyrical masterpiece - shot through with dark humour - that can capably rival the best Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds moments. It's these conscientiously sculpted vignettes that ensure Grinderman 2 is a record that you'll want to play again and again. "The epic of Gilgamesh, a pretty little black A-line dress, I give to you. The spinal cord of JFK, wrapped in Marilyn Monroe's negligee, I give to you." In fact, it's such a beautiful paean to love, that you almost forget that much of the song's focus is on that of an obsessive lover, who'd go to the end of the world to please the sole object of their desire. This view is cemented by this closing refrain to the second verse: "I want nothing in return, just the softest little breathless word, I ask of you."
Bellringer Blues is the final word on Grinderman 2. It's these long, drawn out cogitations that Nick Cave has been perfecting over a career spanning more than thirty years, and as expected, it's a masterful close to a passionately fierce album, burning with simmering guitars and sly organ trickery. The wall of sound hits you and your senses, immediately revoking any wishes for a happy ending.
Here we are again at the end of the review. What can I say that I haven't said before? Nick Cave comes out fighting with a rapturous album that will have you savouring its nine-tracks at least until Grinderman 3 is released from its captivity. In the meantime, Nick has stated that a new Bad Seeds album will be released in 2011, so rest assured that the busiest man in the music industry will be back before long.
Grinderman 2 is perhaps unsurprisingly the follow up to Grinderman, the side project by Nick Cave, Grinderman consist of the same musicians as The Bad Seeds but the sound is rather different, with a more fuzzy bluesy punk sound.
I thoroughly enjoyed the band's first effort, it was a bit disjointed and the theme of middle-aged men growing old disgracefully was a fresh change from Cave's more poetic efforts and more like the upbeat liveliness and somewhat raunchier album Dig Lazarus Dig.
On this album though the theme is already a bit worn out and although the band have a more complete sound, it was the slight unexpectedness of the first album I enjoyed, the music still remains relatively gritty and fuzzy but the lyrics and music are all a bit similar on each track and nothing really jumps out and surprises you.
Grinderman 2 may be receiving lots of plaudits from the music sections of newspapers like The Guardian and Telegraph but it seems to be by similar aged critics who don't delve to deeply into the musical word for albums to review, I found the album to be reasonably enjoyable to listen to occasionally but it's a little mediocre and won't be anyway near my top album of the year lists!
Kitchenette and Heathen Child are tracks where I find the material too dull, written from a rather bitter perspective it doesn't suit the music much.
Mickey Mouse and The Goodbye Man is an odd but enjoyable introduction to the album and Palaces of Montezum is one of the best tracks but there's nothing great about this album and I found it a bit of a let down after the first one.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man
2 Worm Tamer
3 Heathen Child
4 When My Baby Comes
5 What I Know
8 Palaces Of Montezum
9 Bellringer Blues