By Thomas Bond
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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (Anti)
While countless adjectives have been used to describe Nick Cave's music over the course of 13 studio albums with The Bad Seeds, it's safe to say “fun” and “groovy” weren't among them. That'll change with number 14, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Opening with the slinky, blackly humorous title track and “Today's Lesson” – with its refrain of “We're gonna have a real cool time!” balanced by a serious subtext – the songs serve immediate notice that this is a Bad Seeds record vastly different from its predecessors, and all the better for it. Gone are the trademark dramatic flourishes on piano and violin, replaced by additional guitars and ambient sounds on songs like the creepy “Night of the Lotus Eaters.” The album's upbeat feel is startlingly out-of-character and can surely be traced to Cave's Grinderman project of last year, which found the 50-year-old cutting loose with a trio of Bad Seeds on a self-titled disc full of lust, menace, buzzsaw guitars, and Cave's most feral vocal performances since his youthful days fronting The Birthday Party.
At an age when most artists are slowing their pace, Cave is relentless. Along with the superb “DLD!!!” and “Grinderman” albums, he recently penned the screenplay for the acclaimed Australian western The Proposition and composed and performed the soundtracks for that film and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, in which he also appeared. Even more praiseworthy than his work ethic, Cave's latest works may be the best he's produced in an already stellar career.