Grinderman is Nick Cave’s side project, but should it count as a side project? It’s not really a different band than the Bad Seeds, just a subset of them–three, to be exact, not counting Cave. According to AMG, the idea was to write together rather than Cave writing songs on his own and then bringing them to the band.
How different is it from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds? A decent amount. You won’t mistake the vocalist and lyricist for anyone other than Nick Cave, but the songs do sound more improvised than the tight compositions generally issued under the other moniker. Often, it’s like a goth jam-band, with the not-very-complex melodies sung by Cave providing the basis for dark, industrial/blues guitar noise, with screeching violins and other instruments showing up along the way.
At the same time, some songs sound like they could have been outtakes from a recent Bad Seeds record, in particular “Depth Charge Ethel” and “(I Don’t Need You To) Set Me Free.” That’s not a knock, particularly in the case of “Depth Charge Ethel,” but, again, how much of a side project is it? The answer to that question probably doesn’t matter that much–hardcore Nick Cave fans are going to buy it anyway.
Is it any good? Yes, but a bit exhausting. That’s partly the result of the type of music they were creating, no doubt. But it also tends to wear on the ears a bit due to samey production, probably the result of the manner in which they created that music (that’s been a problem on recent Bad Seeds albums, too, so perhaps I’m being too generous). They seem to have structured it like an LP, with “Go Tell the Women” neatly ending side one. I like to take a break before launching into side two, beginning with “(I Don’t Need You To) Set Me Free.”
As I said, hardcore Nick Cave fans will buy this, and they should. Novices should start elsewhere.
No Pu**y Blues: