The Bad Seeds' last album, 2004's Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus, was a sumptuous, literate double disc, but the band's Grinderman alter ego, launched last year, seems to have permanently stripped Nick Cave's hard-won polish. Much of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!—particularly the choppy, squealing title track and the lopsidedly sinuous "Night Of The Lotus Eaters"—is an unhinged, even reckless mess with chunks of dirt and blood under its fingernails. On "Today's Lesson" and "Lie Down Here (And Be My Girl)," trumpet-like guitars recall David Bowie's herky-jerky production on The Stooges' Raw Power; on "Albert Goes West," an impenetrable wall of distortion dissolves into an equally dense cloud of toxins.
Lyrically, Cave's dick is still hanging out of his pants: His lascivious self-caricature from Grinderman resurfaces in Dig's closer, "More News From Nowhere," a "Sister Ray"-like odyssey into hallucinatory sex, boasting lines like "I called her my Nubian princess, gave her some sweetback, badass jive / I spent the next seven years between her legs, pining for my wife." Even more palpable is the absence of piano—Cave seems to have all but abandoned the instrument, erasing much of the friction between muck and majesty that fueled The Bad Seeds of yore. Yes, Dig bears little concept or nuance, but it more than makes up for it in raw, oozing passion. And the aging Cave, to his credit, can still easily eat his own weight in sleaze.