Music » CD Reviews

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (Mute)

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Lots of folk lean on religion when they're trapped and desperate. Like, for example, an inmate facing 30 hard ones. Nick Cave is a prisoner of sorts, only his penitentiary comes without concrete walls. "I saw the world as a kind of punishing place," he once lamented, "a bad place, a place of chaos." The brooding Australian singer and songwriter leans on Christianity, recontextualizing (or maybe deforming) its core doctrine to jibe with his principles and compulsions. While fronting the Bad Seeds over the years, Cave has embraced the darker side of speaking-in-tongues hysteria and has modified many of the religion's threadbare parables. Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! features more of Cave's singular spiritual ardor in the Bible-meets-the-Bowery narrative of the title track and "Jesus of the Moon"'s twisted evangelism. Raw Power-style guitar rock conflates with reimagined chromatic psychedelia throughout, but there's enough sonic Babel to unsteady the soul in "We Call Upon the Author"'s Rust Belt clamor. Cave is as trapped and desperate as ever on Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! — which is a good thing, because that's when he's at his unequaled best.

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