Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed Ltd.) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Skeleton Tree

Bad Seed Ltd.

Oct 11, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Let’s get the obvious out of the way here. Fairly or not, it’s almost impossible to talk about this record without talking about the unspeakable tragedy that befell Nick Cave during its making. In July 2015, his 15-year-old son Arthur fell off of a cliff near his home in Brighton, England and died from his injuries. At that time, most of the record had already been completed, but understandably, Cave went back into the studio and adjusted some lyrics to reflect the pain, mourning, and loss that emanate from this masterwork. With longtime Bad Seed and Dirty Three leader Warren Ellis once again back as his primary musical collaborator, the album is a logical successor musically to 2013’s comparatively lighter Push the Sky Away, another record centered around mood and atmosphere and with added minimalist electronic elements and without the garage rock tendencies of 2008’s Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

This one hits even harder, as Cave’s narrative-based storytelling, long an integral element of his work, is shoved aside in favor of songs that deal with loss and death, but never directly address the tragedy at hand and thereby act in an allegorical way. All of this, needless to say, does not make for easy listening. In fact, this is music so alive, real, raw, and occasionally frightening, that it forces you into its grip for its almost 40 minute running time, refusing to let you go. It might not be something that you would play that often given the intensity, but when you do, its emotional impact hits like a ton of bricks. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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