Grinderman, by Grinderman
Suggested by Simon Rodway
Grinderman set me a quandary.
I tend to do a little research on each artist, somewhere along my listening timeline. If I’m sat at my desk when I fire up the band, I’ll power up Wikipedia early. If the music moves me to either extreme, to euphoria or despair, I’ll go trawling for titbits partway through song one, searching for information to either deride or devour. If I’m neither buoyed nor bored, I’ll likely drift through a couple before I turn to the Internet.
Of a weekend, I’m likely listening while doing other things. I’ll be cooking lunch, say, or mopping floors or scooping kitties. Without easy access to the information superhighway, I’ll absorb the sounds as the Creator intends, without the opinions of others clouding my judgment. And yes, as I’m writing a review I do see the irony.
I got through around three quarters of Grinderman’s self-titled debut release before reading and realising that it was Nick Cave.
Before this revelation, I’d be hard pressed to say I was enjoying it. It has a very quirky appeal, and the gruff vocals are entertaining, but there’s a sense of the flabby about the playing, as if the strings are loose on the instruments and the bassist’s trousers are about to fall down. The lyrics are, frankly, bizarre, verging on brutal at times, and the entire feel is that of menacing toxicity, a snarling broodiness that’s both unnerving and slightly ugly, like a rainbow bruise on an inner thigh.
When I learnt it was Nick Cave, three songs from the end, I was confused. I like Nick Cave. And now I knew who was singing, it was obviously Nick Cave
Suddenly, things brightened. The quirky appeal was heightened, the vocals more expressive. The flabbiness became endearing, like early Stones or top-tier Stooges. Lyrically, phrases such as “he drank panther piss and f**ked the girls you’re probably married to” (from the bludgeoning opener Get It On) took on a poetry I didn’t previously see, and the slightly troubling yet personal favourite Go Tell The Women became a self-aware parody that was lampooning what I previously took as depressingly lacking in subtext.
Overall, what I took as tawdry before was now made acceptable by the simple addition of a celebrity I respect. That can’t be right, surely? Am I that easily swayed, that devoid of principle that I’ll switch allegiance at the drop of a hat or at from a slap in the face from a Red Right Hand?
I’m still perturbed by the incel vibe given off from No Pussy Blues. It’s an enjoyable romp, forthright and driven, but it’s rather tedious and mucky, lyrically. But even in this I’m questioning my real thoughts… In my teenage pomp I’d listen to some very questionable content by bands such as WASP and Manowar without batting an eyelid. Have I lost my sense of humour, or perspective?
Tangentially, Grinderman has asked me a few difficult questions that I’ll be pondering for a long while. I currently can’t discern if it’s good or bad. I’ll give Grinderman the benefit of the doubt, and err on the side of righteousness with a middling 6/10.