Grinderman: “Grinderman 2”

Apparently, when alt-rock/art-rock superstars have their midlife crises, one of the things they do is start a new band that plays loud, guitar-based rock’n’roll. David Bowie had Tin Machine, Julian Cope had Brain Donor, and now Nick Cave has Grinderman, which is basically a stripped-down, four-piece version of the Bad Seeds.

This is actually the second Grinderman album; I never heard the first one because I only check in with what Nick is doing every four years or so. He’s one of these guys who’s so prolific that if I tried to keep up with everything he puts out, I’d have no time for all the important things I have to do, like trim my cats’ claws and watch every episode of Parks & Recreation at least three times. But judging by the song titles on Grinderman (“Get It On,” “No Pussy Blues,” “Go Tell the Women,” “Love Bomb,” etc.), both albums are concerned with the same basic subject matter; and if you don’t know what that subject matter is, read those titles again. Or consider these lyrics from Grinderman 2:

You know they call my baby the Mambo Rider
I cry storms of tears till the rising of the dawn
You know I’m only happy when I’m inside her
I guess that I’ve just loved you for too long
(“Worm Tamer”)

Cling to me baby in this rented room
Who needs the TV? You are my TV!
Who needs a record player? You are my record player!
O cling to me baby in this rented room!
(“Evil!”)

I keep hanging around your kitchenette
And I’m gonna get a pot to cook you in
I stick my fingers in your biscuit jar
And crush all your gingerbread men
(“Kitchenette”)

Which is not to say that Grinderman 2 is one-dimensional; but it does take a decidedly back-to-basics approach, leaning heavily on old-school influences like the Doors and the Stooges, the ghosts of Howlin’ Wolf and Johnny Cash looming over all. The result is liberating, exhilarating, at times even fun – and “fun” is not a word one generally associates with Nick Cave. Best song: “Palaces of Montezuma,” a giddy piece of surrealist romanticism with fantastic lyrics:

The spider Goddess and the Needle Boy
The slave-dwarves they employ
I give to you…
A custard-colored super-dream
Of Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen
I give to you…
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…

That’s right, the spinal cord of JFK wrapped in Marilyn’s negligee…what woman could resist that? And if that’s not enough for you, check out these beards:

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