Coming off the wonderful return to dirtyass rock of Grinderman, Nick Cave resumes his work with the Bad Seeds with an album more akin to the raucous nature of that aforementioned project. The difference is that Ginderman sounded like a man kicking out some guttural mid-life crisis, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! sounds like a man baptized again on the alter of seedy six strings.
Marginally more restrained than Grinderman, Cave has instead focused on placing the negative energy in his words instead of merely turning up the amps. Placed against other performer’s mid-career work, one is hard pressed to find a reference point as consistently great as Lazarus.
And when you’re able to, you suddenly discover the kind of company that Nick Cave is in with. By now, it’s time to start realizing that he’s rubbing shoulders with people like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and there’s no better moment to start diving into his wide body of work than with this, an impeccably written and perfectly arranged statement from a man who’s delivering some of the best material of an already remarkable career.
This is my favorite kind of Cave; I consider Live Seeds as the best Nick Cave album ever on the merits that you can almost smell the sweat, booze and pussy that exudes over each song. Seriously: I’d trust my daughter more with the members of Motley Crue than with Nick Cave because there’s always this bad feeling that he’d not only be able to talk her into sleeping with him, but robbing a convenience store afterwards and killing the clerk in the process.
Lazarus is cut from similar cloth, forgoing any evidence of studio tools and relying on the band to create a menagerie that alternates between sublime and terrifying.
Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! goes deeper than merely reaffirming Cave’s well-known role as a cocksmith and lifetime member of The Sons of Lee Marvin. Back in fine form is Reverend Cave, who reworks the Lazarus into a modern-day parable where Lazarus, now known by “Larry,” spends the time after his resurrection roaming the streets of N.Y.C. circa 1977, bitterly offering how he “never asked to be raised up from the tomb.”
Is it a coincidence that Cave chose to release this around Easter, or is the implication that he, now into his fifth decade, is experiencing a resurrection of his own, finding new life in the blasphemy of rock? Whatever the holiday, religion, or position, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! is one of Cave’s best, proving that he has himself ascended to a level of holy proportions.