Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Push The Sky Away

Written by: SC on 11/03/2013 22:26:07

Six years has gone by since Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds released a record. At that time band members Nick Cave, Jim Sclavunos, Warren Ellis and Martin P. Casey worked together on the more angry, garage/noise rock inspired Grinderman-project alongside The Bad Seeds and ended up releasing two albums which were released on each side of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds record “Dig, Lazerus, Dig!!!”(2008). These three records was a kind of a walk the way back to the start and to the mid nineties' more wild and untamed soundscape like the record “Let Love In” (1994). This period was an exciting deviation from the more fragile and ballad-oriented soundscape Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds had taken on for example “The Boatman’s Call” (1997), “No More Shall We Part” (2001) and “Nocturama” (2003).

Even though the sound of Grinderman is almost out of the question on this record, the era of this raging beast cannot go by unmentioned, because of this once again drastic turn in choice of soundscape on their new fifteenth album “Push The Sky Away”. Back in the eighties the band focused on a more alternative and progressive soundscape for instance on “The First Born Is Dead” (1985) and “Kicking Against The Pricks” (1986). At that time crookedness and a nagging darkness was the fulcrum of the bands approach to the music. “Push The Sky Away” has found its way back and combined the alternative eighties with the more fragile and melancholic sound for the Millennium.

Opening track “We No Who ‘U ‘R” is a big slow hymn with some sort of an echo organ and a children’s choir to back up Nick Cave’s deep, determined and yet fragile voice. One can hear some flute by Warren Ellis that together with the choir creates this big voluminous expression and at the same time sounds really minimalistic and delicate. This duality is one of the most exciting features and it continues throughout the album. Because of this paradox with the scared and sensitive yet determined expression the album gives you the rights to draw parallels to both the older alternative and desperate feeling from the eighties as well as the newer more vulnerable feeling from the Millennium.

The track “We Real Cool” is another fantastic example of the symbiosis between the gnawing evil and the delicate heaven. Martin P. Casey’s low tuned bass goes on and on in the same slow obscure riff and it just make you shiver. Warren Ellis supplies the bass with his gloomy violin and Nick Cave with his light piano playing and starts singing “Who took your measurements, from your toes to the top of your head?” and then the chorus opens up the soundscape by lighter violin playing that depresses the bass, yet when the verse returns it has brought this deep and horrific and scary feeling along. It is amazing!

“Mermaids” is a grand and more pop-inspired ballad about criticism of any constituted religion and it is most explicit when Nick Cave beautifully sings: “I believe in God, I believe in mermaids too”. Musically we travel through acoustic guitar playing, synthesizer, light percussions, electric guitar playing, choir, piano and more, in a nice dreamy slipstream of pleasure and confusion.

Like the quote from “Mermaids” indicates there is a lot of blackened humor within the lyrics. Another great example of this is the song “Higgs Boson Blues” where Nick Cave mentions the motel where Martin Luther King was shot, Cave’s own funeral and then puncture the dark atmosphere by sliding a comment on Hannah Montana in the picture which in most awkward manner puts a smile on your face without it feeling entirely wrong.

I find this way of writing and composing so fascinating that it just lifts “Push The Sky Away” up to a whole other level. These satirical comments and dark lyrics combined with the minimalism, are in my eyes a response to the world and society we live in. The stress factor is extraordinary and the constant commercial and materialistic bombardment is overwhelming. One has to consider religion as a way of living your life, as well as a way of living that can possibly can be the root of all evil.

The musical minimalism that just sounds so grand is an entirely new aspect of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ universe and it is just fantastic to listen to and every single song has a reference to the previous eras of the band and it just expands the album enormously. But you should not listen to the record if you are in a hurry. “Push The Sky Away” is a collection of small details and comments and reflections that open up if you let it. The album will probably not speak to everybody and especially not within first or second run. But if you give it some time I think that this flower will open up before your eyes and ears and just carry you away into a dreamy world of disorder and peace like it did to me.

Download: We Real Cool, Mermaids, Higgs Boson Blues, We No Who ‘U ‘R
For The Fans Of: Tom Waits, Tindersticks, Tarnation

Release Date 18.02.2013
Playground Music / Mute Records

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