Dig Lazarus Dig!!!, the fourteenth studio album by the incredibly cool Nick Cave and his band The Bad Seeds, is a welcome change to some of his more depressed (not necessarily depressing!), piano-heavy music (i.e. The Boatman’s Call).
Don’t get me wrong… I love most of his stuff. But this is that sort of music that defines Cave as “cool”, rather than your run-o’-the-mill talented musician. Cave has stated that this album is similar in sound to his side project Griderman; a more “garage rock”-type sound.
The music on this album tends to have a repetitive feel with lots of noise happening and a driving, cool beat. It also has an epic feel to it, thanks to the use of instruments such as the organ. It seems most similar in musical style to Let Love In. Vocally, Cave takes on a sneering, Bowie-like quality.
Like pretty much all of Cave’s music, the lyrics are fantastic and a welcome departure from the flaccidity of much Western contemporary lyrics. In the great importance of lyrics to the overall feel of its songs, Dig Lazarus Dig!!! is similar to the Bad Seeds’ previous studio (double) album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, in which Cave’s inventive lyrics could conceivably function as stand-alone poetry.
However, in my opinion, Dig Lazarus Dig!!! takes a step further. Its as if Cave has written a book and decided to read it along with some musical backing- often putting way more syllables in a line than we are used to with Western music. This has a similar feel to the operatic tradition of recitative: a focus on lyrics, with a sparse basso continuo accompaniment, to tell a story in between the arias. This makes the choruses even more effective, such as in We Call Upon The Author, where the recurring and driving chorus is especially dramatic compared to Cave’s recitative.
A very cool album that was well worth downloading again when the first copy was a dud. 4 stars.