Nick Cave & the Bad SeedsNick Cave
Push the Sky Away
Bad Seed Ltd.
Feb 15, 2013 Web Exclusive
Push the Sky Away, Nick Cave's 15th studio album with the Bad Seeds, is steeped in a calm, restrained atmosphere. It could hardly be further removed from the raucous Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! or the wacked-out, sleazy garage rock Grinderman, which should please the Cave apostles who prefer his music stay morose.
From the opener, the singer adopts a somber, restful disposition that barely wavers throughout the record. "We Know Who U R" is beautiful as it is menacing; gentle woodwinds lay an unsettling foundation for his soft and threatening words ("We know who you are/And we know where you live/And we know there's no need to forgive"). "Jubilee Street" is hauntingly remorseful; his melancholy lyrics ("I am alone now/I am beyond recriminations") are sung at a languid pace, with the only respite coming in the form of a long slow-burn instrumental that closes the song.
There are a few exceptions to the album's subdued, serious tone: the character Cave often played in Grinderman—a role that sometimes walked the narrow line between raunchy rake and pervy uncle—makes a cameo in the quietly seamy "Mermaids." Cave later gets a bit meta with "Finishing Jubilee Street," in which he recounts a dream he had in the hours following writing said track on the record. This and other musical cross-references add to the feeling of cohesiveness already established by the record's consistent ambience. The Bad Seeds may not have gone into the studio with a plan this time around, but somewhere in the process they came away with this singular vision.
Push the Sky Away is an almost entirely downtrodden affair, even more so than latter-career brooders such as The Lyre of Orpheus, Nocturama, or The Boatman's Call, which feel somewhat upbeat in comparison. While nearly unshakeable in its bleakness, Push the Sky Away is another exemplary effort from the Bad Seeds, and the moodiest entry into the Nick Cave canon in over a decade. (www.nickcave.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10