Album Review

Grinderman 2

Grinderman 2

by Grinderman

8.5 / 10
21st September 2010

Reviewed by Gareth Meade

In the world of side-projects, Grinderman’s relationship to its member’s original band is more robust than most. Lead singer Nick Cave has spent a lifetime delving into different personas that are interested in little more than religion, death, love, and of course, sex. It’s an extension of those personalities that fronts Grinderman, with a band that has excused itself from the complications of being Bad Seeds, and especially from the complications of being restrained. But Grinderman 2 is the giveaway that these are the same men, making roughly the same music, with roughly the same excellent results.

That’s not to say that the regressive proto-punk of Grinderman’s eponymous debut doesn’t make an appearance. Album opener ‘Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man’ is the closest the band gets to sounding like their 2007 incarnation, albeit with a clearer sense of direction and scale. But even putting ‘Mickey Mouse’ (or any of the subsequent Grinderman 2 tracks) next to the likes of ‘No Pussy Blues’ or ‘Depth Charge Ethel’, exposes how stripped back those songs are and renders them almost feckless by comparison.

There’s a depth to Grinderman 2 that brings it more in line with what we would expect from The Bad Seeds. And nowhere across the album’s nine tracks is this hammered home harder than on ‘When My Baby Comes’. The song lithely contorts like an early Velvet Underground composition before exploding midway through into a thick guitar driven monster, which for either band is unprecedented. And although it is never quite repeated, ‘Kitchenette’ finds Grinderman locked into a similarly dirty groove, while hectic single ‘Heathen Child’ manages to straddle that vibe and the recklessness of ‘Evil!’, the albums most straightforward inclusion.

But all of these songs are the complete opposite to penultimate track ‘Palaces of Montezuma’, the only addition which is truly at odds with the bristling wolf that adorns the cover. Sounding like an outtake from Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, it’s a Bad Seeds song through and through. Importantly though, it isn’t out of place here, in much the same way that ‘I Don’t Need You (To Set Me Free)’ wasn’t out of place on the original Grinderman album. While there is a single misstep (‘What I Know’ is largely a redundant overindulgence), even with its relatively short track list Grinderman 2 still manages to sound like a complete and satisfying document.

The best thing about Grinderman’s first album was the reckless abandon. It announced, with a post-midlife roar, that there was still life in the old boys yet. Grinderman 2 goes even further and makes you doubt that that life will ever be extinguished.

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