Most men can be relied upon to have just one mid-life crisis, but Nick Cave isn't like most men. In 2007, the moody Australian troubadour marked his 50th birthday by ditching the comfort of a piano and (with three of his regular Bad Seeds in tow), released an album of strident, gratuitous rock'n'roll. The risk paid off and reinvigorated Cave's career, but few expected the trick could be pulled off twice.
While Grinderman 2 feels less revolutionary than its predecessor - and perhaps that's because the novelty has worn off - it's similarly loaded with ferocious riffs, rumbling rhythms and bad-ass attitude. It departs from the steady chugging of the original in some ways, however most notably by being an album of greater sonic variation. The opener Mickey Mouseand the Goodbye Men is every bit as weird and jilted as the title suggests, and serves as a perfect reminder of the band's lunatic sound. Then lead single Heathen Child offers-up a 1970s rock-stomp mixed with occult imagery. Those in search of Cave's brilliantly bizarre lyrics won't be disappointed either - Palaces of Montezuma features the lines: "a custard-coloured super-dream of Ali McGraw and Steve McQueen".
From the psych-pop of Bellringer Blues, to the towering noise of Evil, the album slowly begins to reveal a subtle trend: whereas Grinderman's debut focused on the paranoia that can sometimes accompany later life, this offering sees Cave embracing those agitations.
A Thousand Suns
(Warner Bros) Their last album, Minutes to Midnight, saw the California sextet abandoning the angst-ridden anthems for which they became famous and embracing their softer side. A Thousand Suns continues this trend, and then some. The album marks the wettest point in the history of nu-metal - a genre that most music fans had probably forgotten ever existed.
Hands All Over
(Polydor) After a three-year hiatus, the Grammy-winning funk-poppers return with an album of blustery ballads and falsetto radio rock, midwifed by the super-producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange (Nickelback, Def Leppard). Singles Give a Little More and Misery will delight fans, but aside from the country-tinged Out of Goodbyes, there's very little here they won't have heard before.