Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Grinderman : Self-Titled (Mute Records)

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Grinderman : Self-Titled (Mute Records)

"Foul-mouthed, noisy, hairy and darn well old enough to know better" reads the Grinderman press release. This is not what we expect of Nick Cave, along with three of his Bad Seed conspirators, at this stage of his career. Approaching the ripe old age of 50, most artists are content with nostalgic arena tours where they recall past glorious in front of over-zealous audiences. Cave, though, has chosen a completley different path. Maybe it was a pact with the devil in exchange for his soul, but on this form there is no stopping rock's main hellraiser. Grinderman are a hard-drinking, hard-rocking garage rock band that recalls the spirit of MC5 and The Velvet Underground.

Stripped down to the bare essentials, Cave even learned the guitar for this album. He is joined by Warren Ellis on Fendocaster duties, Jim Sclavunos manning the drum stool and Martin P. Casey holding it altogether with some dirty, distorted bass. This Grinderman experiment is said to be the way forward for future Bad Seeds releases. Let's hope so because this album is tremendous from start to finish, with Cave in particularly fine form.

His lyrics are brutally personal ("My face is finished, my body's gone, and I can't help but think up here, in all this applause and gazing down at all the young and beautiful, with their questioning eyes that I must, above all things, love myself"). They are wickedly funny too, on the same track, "No Pussy Blues", Cave bemoans his lack of luck with the ladies with this classic line: "I sent her every type of flower, I played the guitar by the hour, I patted her revolting little chiwawa, but still she just didn't want to...". Of course, this is all soundtracked by rapid-fire basslines and staccato drumming. It's honest and angry, with the band unleashing their vitriol with furious wah-wah guitars and pummelling percussion in the chorus.

Despite being labelled a garage-rock band, Grinderman are far from limited. On the eponymous "Grinderman", Cave shows us why he is the closest thing to Jim Morrison, with a performance that summons the shamanic spirit of The Doors poet. "Love Bomb", on the other hand, is a greasy blues-based track with waves of wailing guitar. While, "(I Don't Need You To) Set Me Free" returns to that vintage Bad Seeds sound. "Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars", however, is the album stand-out. A fast-paced, dynamic rythmn, howls of discordant guitar work and kooky, horror movie organ sounds are mixed to terrific effect, giving the impresssion that this would be an absolute show-stopper if the band ever toured this album.

Grinderman, therefore, is a massive slap in the face to those who doubted Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. In these days, when BBC Radio don't play your records because your not on their cool list or because your over 40 years old, this record gives the middle finger to all those who place unfair expectations. The older you get, the more retrospective your material should be. This is a school of thought shared by media and (some) fans alike. Not so!, says Cave and his cohorts. A mid-life crisis?, not a chance!. This is the sound of a band showing us young upstarts how it should be done.

Rating = 87%

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