Grinderman GrindermanGrinderman 2
The howls that Nick Cave lets loose in " Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man" –the first song on “Grinderman 2”, the second album of this band in parallel to the Bad Seeds– are sounds that the devil himself would make. And not in the Catholic sense of the concept of “devil” (that allusion to evil, Hell, the snake, and all of that stuff about the fallen angel), but rather that inner demon that leads one towards bad actions, who spurs some people to order one drink after another, to go to the restroom to powder their noses, to pay for sex, or to get into a brawl in a discotheque with the first person they run into, with any excuse. It is definitely a well practised wild side that Cave and those who accompany him in his misdeeds explore in this project. You need only consult their respective biographies and see the results of the album. The band feels great exploring new corners of darkness and dirtiness, and it can surely do that because not having the name of the Bad Seeds stamped on the cover gives them a freedom that money can’t buy.
All of this sounds silly, but it isn’t at all. Cave, like various members of the group (Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos, Martyn Casey), have explained in recent interviews that when they compose for Grinderman, the work is totally spontaneous. They show up with a few ideas in mind, and they develop them in the rehearsal hall. They try them out, they screw up, and they laugh at each other until they come up with the sound that they’re looking for. On the other hand, with the Bad Seeds, everything is under the control of the grand maestro. Cave shows up with everything done and the others settle for the crumbs. This is why having kept the same composing system as in the first album for this second one means that the essence of the band is the same, and it marks its territory with respect to the Bad Seeds as if it were a dog pissing. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the two Grinderman albums. On the new LP the songs are more aggressive, more compact. Throughout the nine songs, the tension is at a peak, the album is a nasty streak, starting with the schizophrenic noise of “ Evil”, which works like a shot of adrenalin, all the way to the explicitly sexual “ Kitchenette”. Except for “ Palaces of Montezuma”, which is one of those halftimes to shut your eyes and imagine that you are in a late 60’s rock festival, there is no respite. You need only have a listen to the two singles, “ Heathen Child” and “ Worm Tamer”. The first awakens the bad intentions quickly, thanks to a distorted guitar that is scary, and Cave’s voice, which goes from a whisper to that deep voice with choruses, while it tells you that nothing can protect you. The second is based on rhythmic solidity and guitars layered one on top of the other, until they disappear. Two songs that make you think that a party with these guys would be rash, not recommendable for those with weak stomachs.
You can tell that with this album, the group wanted to confirm itself as something more than a parallel project. It’s not about the temporary insanity that assaults you after having drunk an entire bottle of Jack Daniel’s, nor is it a midlife crisis (although without a doubt, this music must take them back to those days when they were young and used to cause trouble). This is definitely not a passing thing: Grinderman is serious. Nick Cave will have to find some time in his busy life as a novelist, scriptwriter, composer of soundtracks, and leader of the Bad Seeds so that this unruly child can continue to grow. It’s going to take up a lot of time, in any case, because it’s a wild child. With a father like this one, Grinderman couldn’t have turned out any other way.