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It would also be the last album to feature founding member Mick Harvey, who left the Bad Seeds in 2009, and the second without founding member Blixa Bargeld. Dig features the same personnel as the Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus double album. It is also the first to be released since the Bad Seeds side project Grinderman released their eponymous album. In several interviews Cave has stated that this album would "sound like Grinderman", implying a garage rock sound. In line with this rough-and-ready approach, the album was recorded in about five days, an uncommonly short period for a full-length album.
On the band's official website Cave wrote about his inspiration for the album:
Ever since I can remember hearing the Lazarus story, when I was a kid, you know, back in church, I was disturbed and worried by it. Traumatised, actually. We are all, of course, in awe of the greatest of Christ's miracles--raising a man from the dead--but I couldn't help but wonder how Lazarus felt about it. As a child it gave me the creeps, to be honest. I've taken Lazarus and stuck him in New York City, in order to give the song, a hip, contemporary feel. I was also thinking about Harry Houdini who spent a lot of his life trying to debunk the spiritualists who were cashing in on the bereaved. He believed there was nothing going on beyond the grave. He was the second greatest escapologist, Harry was, Lazarus, of course, being the greatest. I wanted to create a kind of vehicle, a medium, for Houdini to speak to us if he so desires, you know, from beyond the grave.
Critical response to Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! was overwhelmingly positive, with reviewers acclaiming the album as both a return to greatness and a new side of the band. The album currently holds a score of 87 out of 100 on the review aggregate site Metacritic, which indicates "universal acclaim". A review from NME described Dig, Lazarus Dig!!! as a "gothic psycho-sexual apocalypse" and stated that "just when The Bad Seeds seemed content to settle into middle-age as a cabaret gospel showband - albeit an extraordinary one - they've bared their teeth again". Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork stated that "this is how rock musicians are supposed to age". Alastair McKay of Uncut wrote that "the band has never sounded better, and Cave seems to have relaxed into the hysteria of his vocal style; like Elmer Gantry singing Leonard Cohen at a tent-revival." In his Consumer Guide column for MSN Music, Robert Christgau cited "We Call Upon the Author" and "More News from Nowhere" as highlights and called Cave "almost Dylanesque for blessed moments", later giving the album a two-star honorable mention rating.
In a five-star review, The Observers Graeme Thomson praised Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! as "a triumph from first to last". David Harris of Tiny Mix Tapes said that "rock, country, blues, and post-punk rhythms meld with Cave's lyrics on sex, death, God, and America to create what could be one of his most perfect albums yet", while Matt Fink of Paste called the album "vintage Cave." Jason Heller of The A.V. Club said that Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! "bears little concept or nuance, but it more than makes up for it in raw, oozing passion."Hot Press critic Paul Nolan wrote that the album "is a less sonically abrasive affair than the album Cave released last year with his side-project Grinderman, but it teems with as many musical and lyrical ideas as ever."Drowned in Sound noted that "while there are inevitable parallels what with one album following the last so soon", Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! was nonetheless "a bolder creation that its predecessor." In a mixed review, Tim Perlich of Now wrote that the band's tendency "to revert to familiar structures and grooves" meant that it was "not surprising, then, that a number of the tunes on Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! sound familiar", though he acknowledged that "this probably isn't all that troubling to Bad Seeds fans, for whom more of the same is a welcome prospect."
In May 2008, the album was announced as the first nomination for Australian radio station Triple J's 2008 J Awards. The title track was ranked at 35 in the Triple J 2008 Hottest 100 Countdown.