Growing Old (Dis)gracefully
February 20, 2013
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Push The Sky Away – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
..and they keep on coming, candidates for the best album of 2013.
Sonically, Cave’s fifteenth album in a thirty year career is as far away from the aural assaults that characterised the last Bad Seeds opus, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! and the two Grinderman outings as you can get. Push The Sky Away sees him in introspective mood and the music sparser, more subtle and like a film score with strings, synth, organ and rumbling bass to the fore whilst guitar licks are remarkable because there are so few. What hasn’t diminished is Cave’s turn of phrase, sharp and mordant observations on life and his ability to surprise the listener with a sudden change of direction.
After three play-throughs of this relatively short album – nine songs weighing in at around 43 minutes – the stand-out tracks are Higgs Bosun Blues which features a man’s dream, the menacing We Real Cool and Jubilee Street, a lullaby about a prostitute and a man who visits her with a few nods to Dylan’s Desolation Row. Cave is still a dark menacing presence but he is more on the outside looking in than a participant and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis is much more to the fore than in previous Bad Seeds’ albums.
For those of you bemoan the passing of album artwork in this CD/MP3 world the cover features Mrs Cave unrobed.
Not easy listening and I’m sure there are many more hidden depths that will emerge after a few more hearings but even now I think it will be hard for a better album to emerge this year. Highly recommended.