Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (Anti Records)

Age is a liability in the music industry, with the threat of grey hair, weight gain, and declining libido always looming over an artist’s shoulder as the years pass. Leave it to Nick Cave and the men of Grinderman – all over 50 – to turn aging into an attribute, and use it as both as a topic for exploration, and as a chip on their shoulder, giving them something to prove. The band’s 2007 debut album was an exciting mix of Cave’s lyrical prowess and noisy guitar-rock that made most other bands look like wimps in comparison, regardless of age. Three years later, album number two is a little lighter on “raw power” (although “Evil” confirms that the band can still throw down) but more than makes up for it with a heavily textured sound that recalls the layered orchestrations of Spiritualized, the stark futuristic psychosis of Suicide and electric-era Miles Davis (who earns a name-check in “Palaces of Montezuma”). Cave’s performance as both a lyricist and singer is as good as it’s been over the past 30 years. Whether he’s poetically offering up devotion (“Palaces Of Montezuma”, “Evil” ), threatening married women (“Heathen Child”), or combining the two (“Kitchenette”), he does it with a wit and skill that’s unmatched. It’s rare that an artist gets better with age, but that’s exactly what Nick Cave has done; and with Grinderman 2 he shows no sign of slowing down. Look for this to place high on a lot of year-end Top 10 lists.