CD: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
A sombrely reflective, darkly amusing album from the man with the iron voice
With BBC Four currently mourning the passing of the LP, it’s encouraging that some artists still like to confine themselves to the format’s time limitations and its implicit requirement that the songs etched into its silky surface should be connected by some kind of theme or mood.
Nick Cave is one such artist, never more so that with this suite of nine darkly warm numbers that have been nurtured by him and his long-standing and (here anyway) remarkably restrained band. The Bad Seeds have always understood that the needs of the song outweigh the needs of individual musicians to do their thang, so you’ll find no obligatory solos here, or even the obvious presence of each band member on the material. Take “Wide Open Eyes.” It blooms from a fidgeting muted guitar loop which never sits comfortably with the song’s stately progress, creating a subtle tension. And it’s all about textures and washes rather than discrete instrumentation.
Some of these pieces feel more like prose poems set to music than songs, with Cave’s voice and words as the gleaming, slippery focus. Curiously enough, at the beginning of “Finishing Jubilee Street” Cave sounds uncannily like John Cale (compare and contrast with “A Dream” from Lou Reed and John Cale’s Songs for Drella). And Reed too feels like a big influence, as Brighton’s most lugubrious resident tries to mythologise his adopted home much as Reed mythologises New York.
It’s a tough call to turn Brighton’s prosaic stick-of-rock reality into heart-of-darkness territory but Cave pulls it off by favouring a more expressionist, fantastical approach over Reed’s wry reportage style. These lyrics are by turn melancholic, menacing and mischievous (I can see those scarily alluring mermaids out there, sunning themselves on rocks). The result is the band’s most subtly compelling and elegiac album since 2001’s No More Shall We Part . And yes it is available on vinyl.
Watch the video for "Jubilee Street"
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Lyrical country meets rollicking cowpunk: Paul Simmonds on writing songs for two very different new albums
Swedish psychedelicists move the hips and spin the mind
Intermittent thrills on third album from LCD Soundsystem-related electro-dance outfit
Dave Grohl's band closes Invictus Games with a seismic blast of energy and goodwill
Rich and nourishing seventh album from American alt rockers
Ethiopian lounge lizard creates a new sonic world
The first of a series of reissues paying tribute to sadly missed pop auteur Scott Miller
A triumphant return for the New York New Wavers
Head-spinning Mongolians, intense Indonesians and bull-roaring locals at the festival building bridges between Finland and east Asia
Passionate, political singer discusses writing, Africa, and her career with the Communards
Guy Garvey's alt-rockers give the iTunes Festival a likeable but rather studio-neat set
Sam Sweeney's multimedia World War One show pulls powerfully on the heart strings