Grinderman (Mute)

On the surface, Grinderman — which teams Nick Cave with three current Bad Seeds — seems merely an excuse for Cave to release another new album; after all, The Abattoir Blues Tour, an elaborate (and absorbing) double-CD/double-DVD live set, just hit stores. Nevertheless, the quartet more than earns its altered moniker. The music is sparer and sharper than anything Cave has made of late — and the nastier it gets, the better it sounds. The hottest moment here is "No Pussy Blues," a hilariously foul rejection tale sparked by memorable couplets ("I patted her revolting little Chihuahua/But still she just didn't want to") and a Warren Ellis guitar solo that sounds like an electrical storm. Cave and company don't keep the needle in the red for every subsequent track, and pace-changers such as "Go Tell the Women" suffer in comparison. Fortunately, "Depth Charge Ethel" and "Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars)" offset the quieter moments with bracing brutality, and the concluding "Love Bomb" is an explosion of righteous racket.

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