Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

Arti, 2008


REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


There’s really no one as charismatically maniacal in rock music today as Nick Cave, who at 50, backed by the crunching beats of The Bad Seeds, still seems to reign unchallenged over the Underworld with his lascivious, hyperliterate lyrics and the unmistakable growl of his vocals. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, Cave’s fourteenth studio album with the Bad Seeds, swaggers through Biblical allusions, black-edged Americana, and the Odyssey with a biting wit and the loose, staggering garage rhythms that have made him so enduring and alluring over the past decades.

The album launches off in a firestorm with its lead single, “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!,” which reimagines Lazarus, nicknamed Larry, being resurrected and making his way through New York, whose downward spiral Cave recounts with a sort of lurid glee: “He ended up like so many of them do/back on the streets of New York City/In a soup queue, a dopefiend, a slave, then prison, then the madhouse, then the grave/Oh, poor Larry,” he sings, tongue firmly in cheek, all the elements seeming to crash together in an unhinged, upbeat track that’s all the more memorable for its misery. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The grinding guitars and uncontrolled rhythms reappear on “Today’s Lesson,” Cave’s oddly endearing love story between Mr. Sandman who “likes to congregate around the intersection of Janie’s jeans/Mr. Sandman the inseminator, opens her up like a love letter and enters her dreams,” the tale told with the title track’s sense of infectious irony, fierce guitars and strong baseline. Next up, “Moonland” takes a turn for the sinister with its lean backing and overriding sense of longing: “I’m not your favorite lover,” comes Cave’s deepened, ominous croon over the slight dashes of percussion, his lyrics creating an aching, spare ballad that leads in nicely to the harrowing, hard-edged blackness and deceptively subtle instrumentation of “Night Of The Lotus Eaters.” 

Cave’s ravings are at their best when allowed to unfold and erupt on epic, shapeshifting tracks like “We Call Upon The Author” and the album’s closer, “More News From Nowhere.” The former is a smoldering metafictional rocker that namedrops Bukowski and Berryman while punning on Hemingway and vacuum cleaners (“I feel like a vacuum cleaner/a complete sucker!”) and slipping in “myxomatoid,” “jejune,” and the song’s harried final proclamation, “Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix!”

Meanwhile, “More News From Nowhere,” slated to be the album’s second single, brings the disc to a haunting, Homeric close as Cave gracefully mixes episodes from the Odyssey with tales of women from his life, all set to shambling, more muted instrumentation and the not-quite regretful refrain, “It’s getting strange in here/Yeah, it’s getting stranger every year.”

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is one of those unclassifiable, uncontainable albums that’s all the more entertaining for its rip-roaring insanity. Nick Cave may be the devil, but taking a detour through hell has never been so rewarding.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arti, and is used for informational purposes only.