For a guy in his 50s, Nick Cave’s not doing half bad – “Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!” marks his 14th studio album with his band, The Bad Seeds, and it doesn’t sound like the guy’s running short of brazen creativity, strangely depressing lyrics or even breath for that passioned, desperate howl of his.
Yes, goth children praise and adore the bastard — it’s not an easy thing to overcome. But with shaker-laden, Wild West tracks like “Hold on to Yourself” or the shamelessly groovey “Midnight Man,” there’s bound to be something for the regulars. Cave only takes his use of distortion and dissonance so far, creating a gritty, colorful atmosphere for his cryptic tales: “Meanwhile Larry made up names for the ladies / Like Miss Boo and Miss Quick / He stockpiled weapons and took potshots in the air / He feasted on their lovely bodies like a lunatic / And wrapped himself in their soft yellow hair” (“Dig, Lazarus, Dig!”).
Just imagine Lou Reed, only a little more funky or maybe the Talking Heads, but instead, a little bit less. Cave might be somewhere in the middle of this funk-spectrum, but it’s exactly this middle-of-the-road treatment that makes ‘Dig’ such a strong, subtle release. Cave brings only the lightest touch, sprinkling tracks like “More News From Nowhere” with light, persistent percussion and the softest twang of acoustic guitars, making for a certain playfullness and whim that might even make it hard to put down.
The album has more than its fair share of strange moments — whether it’s the clunky, metallic whine of the guitars on “We Call Upon The Author,” or the washy, Hawaiian swagger of “Jesus Of The Moon” — but it’s ultimately an album that’s chock-full of life; Cave leaves no creative stone unturned.