Nick Cave initially founded Grinderman after messing around with a guitar — an instrument Cave rarely played — in 2006 and discovering that his lack of skill emoted a primitive and raw style that garnered a new enough sound for his band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, to transform, with all the same members, into Grinderman. It worked well, and Grinderman met success with a jangled smile, collecting both critical acclaim and commercial success. Enter 2010 and Cave and the boys are back to premiere the sequel: Grinderman 2.
Grinderman 2 starts off much like any sequel, giving the audience a new taste of old material. The opening track “Mickey Mouse and The Goodbye Man” revs up with the same driving guitar force that barreled through the last album. The first three songs ring with the familiar distorted grit that defined the first album, but after the lead single “Heathen Child,” Grinderman 2 takes a new and different turn.
Suddenly, it’s just Cave reciting his haunting lyrics to the back drop of a steady, soft drumbeat or the plucking of a blues guitar. The song “Palaces of Montezuma” sounds more like the Rolling Stones than Grinderman. It’s a risky move, but a smart one. In an effort to avoid becoming stale, Grinderman evolves from primitive to sophisticated. It isn’t seamless, but Cave and company manage to maintain innovation through several more indirect tracks, proving that Grinderman is more than just a side project.
The main problem plaguing Grinderman 2 is the lack of an album-defining track. It has plenty of entertaining tracks — Cave’s zealous shouts and lyrics shine through as always — but there’s not a stand-out single.
At the end of it all, Grinderman 2 is just another diverting roll in the mud with Cave and company leading the audience through another dark night drive, and while it’s not the best effort, it’s still a throttle-stomping ride through the twisted brain of Nick Cave.