Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 in Review: The "Duh" Award

This award, for the album that we all knew was going to be awesome before we heard it (even though we heard the leaked version four months before the album was released), goes to:


Nick Cave has made a lot of records over the last 30 years or so, going back to his days with the Boys Next Door. With only enough exceptions to prove the rule, all of them are "should-haves" and more than a few of them are "must-haves." So it's to be expected that any new Nick Cave project is going to be great, the only question is the particular method and style he's going to use to get there.

Much has been made of Grinderman as Cave's midlife crisis album, that as he approached his 50th birthday, he needed to make a raucous garage rock album with booming guitar chords and lyrics about how he can't get laid ("No Pussy Blues" being the primary example of both). But any claims you've read about Grinderman sounding like Nick Cave is doing a throwback to the Birthday Party days is a load of crap. The Birthday Party were too gloomy and chaotic and obsessed with bats and murder and so on. Not to sound like David Lee Roth or something, but Grinderman isn't obsessed with anything but rocking. It's heavier and bluesier than most of the Bad Seeds stuff, with all of the pretension stripped away and all of the orchestration taken out. These aren't Nick Cave compositions with lots of bells and whistles and gospel choirs and the like, they're four guys in a room trying to play as hard as they can until they're done, and only occasionally slowing down because they're all old and need to catch their breath (there's a couple of down-tempo songs to cool off between stompers). It's solid raunchy goodness from start to finish, and any disappointment you can feel about this album is going to stem only from the fact that Nick Cave has completely re-set the grading scale.

There's plenty of people who use the Rolling Stones as evidence that you can never get too old to stop being rock and roll. But when the hell was the last time the Stones made an album this good?

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