Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (Anti-)

Phases & Stages

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (Anti-)

Took Lazarus himself to raise the best Bad Seeds disc since 1994's Let Love In. Retrospect proves 1996's Murder Ballads the Aussie/English marauders' peak kill, after which Nick Cave came to rest at the penitent piano bench of The Boatman's Call. 2001's No More Shall We Part and 2003's Nocturama wrestled piety and profanity until 2004 two-album teaming Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus found the spirit willing even if the fleshing out was predominantly weak. Cave-scripted Western The Proposition changed all that, its author's appetite seemingly whetted by the 2005 film's blood sport, such that last year's Grinderman broke the frontman and a trio of Bad Seeds off the octet's tree for a four-way assault on "Depth Charge Ethel." Now, Lazarus bumps Cave from piano to organ for a characteristically gleeful sermon from the bully pulpit preacher that once penned "People Ain't No Good." Give Cave a post-punk vamp, and let the former Catholic-school culprit kick the temple to smithereens with Byron-esque fervor while forever mooning over some femme fatale. The title track's opening and inebriating pool-hall anthem raises a fist heavenward like Cave's own "Red Right Hand." ("Larry grew increasingly neurotic and obscene. He never asked to be raised from the tomb!") Acoustic upstrum thickens Cave's organ lick only to have Mick Harvey come back as an electric serpent on "Today's Lesson," which brings to a boil murderous male lust at the expense of Lolita's little cotton tail. Harvey's multidimensional axe work throughout is gargoylian. "Night of the Lotus Eaters" throbs opium disorientation with an absinthe chaser, Harvey's machinist bass/guitar summoning Hephaestus himself. Jungland percussion grooves to a grind-house riff and barroom chorus on "Albert Goes West." Larry pole dance No. 2, "We Call Upon the Author," unleashes another trademark "knees-up screed," according to Cave, while darkly strummed antidote "Hold On to Yourself" glares 3am motel neon and hormones, before "Lie Down Here (and Be My Girl)" again loosens Harvey and a scrum of Bad Seeds upon Cave's nightmare picnic. "Midnight Man" flickers blinding fun-house lights on Macheath's pimpdom just prior to the third and final consummation of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, eight minutes of Nick Cave verse casually shrugging off the fear and loathing of "More News From Nowhere." Jangling Jack's back.

****

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