Rating: 7.75 out of 10
Hearing “No Pussy Blues,” the self-explanatory single from Grinderman’s self-titled ode to testosterone-soaked disillusionment, it’s more than evident that Nick Cave doesn’t buy into James Brown’s assessment of which gender owns the world. Though not always with words, there is a degree of disillusionment that seems to carry through Grinderman, a personality that develops into a humanized characterization. He spills his guts while beating the bongos like he’s sitting amongst ZZ Top and The Nuge in a males-only drum circle and relates with raw prose: a hardened, bored desperado in a modern day nightmare wherein he’s sadly realized that he’s broken his back for the sake of his biological drive and has pathetically failed.
Grinderman, a product of Cave and fellow Bad Seeds, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos, is stream of thought rock at its most determined and simultaneously frustrated. It seems to start off angry, turn sad, turn cynical and then ultimately turns resolute. Nick Cave will recite beatnik style over sometimes simple and uninterrupted streams of fuzztone noise and bongos. With opening track, “Get It On,” and the aforementioned “No Pussy Blues,” Grinderman adds arsenic to the coffeehouse dynamic, not only with their abrasive instrumentation but also with their commanding presence.
The spoken word gives way to actual singing though by the third track and somber turns prevalent. “Electric Alice,” wildly powered by a flurry of organ noise and distortion is the album’s most entrancing track, permeating with psychedelic sadness. And then “Grinderman,” Cave’s lonely introduction to his character, doesn’t really go into details. It relies on its tone to tell the story with a couple phrases:
”I am the Grinderman/In the silver rain/In the pale moonlight/I am the Grinderman”
Other songs like “(I Don’t Need You To) Set Me Free” or “Go Tell The Women” point toward this need to either improve or find something new, as if the drum-circle has led to some self-awareness and a desire to fix everything. “Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars)” and the rather passionate “Man In The Moon” only add to the heap of issues.
Closing with the violin driven “When My Loves Come Down” and guitar rocker “Love Bomb,” Grinderman is almost like a male-oriented Lifetime movie, a somewhat self-absorbed treatise on the death of the male archetype amidst an overabundance of dismay and lack of direction.
Or, I’m just over-thinking this whole fucking thing. Either way, Grinderman rocks.
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