The Bad Seeds is an ongoing mission for Nick Cave and his confreres. Last seen out in public under the gleeful guise of Grinderman, a no-nonsense rock 'n' roll excuse to "head down to the basement and shout," Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds returned in 2008 and hit the elevator button straight back up to the cerebral penthouse suite with their fourteenth album, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
"A hemorrhaging of words and ideas," is how Cave describes the follow-up to 2004's gloriously compendious Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus double LP. "Grinderman was deliberately spare and the concepts were pretty simple," he explains. "With Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! we allowed ourselves to get expansive." That's no understatement. Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! is elusive, allusive and a dizzying narrative that unrolls Western civilization from Homer to Freud, the Bible to the Beats, fitting in its own cast of mythical characters along the way.
Little Janie and the sinister Mr. Sandman lock into a grim dance on "Today's Lesson," a blast of sexual politics crammed into one nasty rock 'n' roll fable; the roaming spirits of "Albert Goes West" go on an interstate rampage through psychotic episodes and dive bar beers; while poor Lazarus finds himself lost and alone on the title track's dense compression of New Testament miracles, Victorian spiritualism and New York decadence.
Then there's the pyrotechnic rant "We Call Upon The Author (To Explain)," which subtly and self-mockingly sets Cave The Songwriter in the dock, challenges God to account for himself and sets a literary feud ("Bukowski was a jerk! Berryman was best!") to an irresistible beat.