Artist: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Album: Push The Sky Away
In this, the 30th year since germinating from the remains of The Birthday Party, The Bad Seeds have abandoned the blues-mired grooves of 2008’s Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! and the dissonant garage rock of the two Grinderman albums. Decamped to France, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have returned to their timeless formula of quiet menace and muttered, perverted lyrics. Those familiar only with the recent albums may be puzzled; did they run out of European adaptors for their Aussie guitar amplifiers?
Economy is clearly the word of the day here. The skeletal arrangements based heavily around multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis’s threadbare violin, minimalistic guitar playing and electronic loops act as a brittle frame on which Cave can weave his taut, tense narratives.
It’s the lyrical content that keeps Bad Seeds fans returning over the decades. “And here I come up the hill/I’m pushing my own wheel of love/I got love in my tummy and a tiny little pain/And a ten ton catastrophe on a sixty pound chain,” from ‘Jubilee Street’, the engrossing, dirge-like standout, relating a tale of a desperate tryst between a guilt-ridden man and a doomed prostitute, recounted by Cave in his trademark unaffected Cohenesque croak.
This magic pervades throughout the album. In the tender ‘Wide Lovely Eyes’, the troubled, existentialist stream-of-consciousness rant that is ‘Higg’s Boson Blues’, and the hymnal closing track which, as it fades away, leaves fans of the group and the merely curious with something to treasure.
In a Nutshell:A truly impressive album, albeit unlikely to win over those who have already made their mind up about Cave.
By Stephen Connolly