It’s been a whole five years since the last release by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. In between there was a raft of activity from Cave: a second album with Grinderman, a novel and a number of soundtracks. This is probably why it actually doesn’t feel like that much time has passed since “Dig, Lazarus, dig!!!”
It’s not technically a comeback, but if it were it would be one to remember.
“Push the sky away” is a real departure from the gritty, chaotic, blues/rock of the previous record. It’s a release that signals the confident return of the Bad Seeds sporting a new minimal, succinct style, compressed like the “quiet force”. There’s an underground tension that pervades the songs on this album, a power that is never fully released but hovers there, hidden but perfectly noticeable. Alarming. A force that hides in the tall grass like a predator ready to pounce on its pray.
From the first few notes of “We no who u r” (with its menacing title), there’s the union of opposites, of dark sounds (the obsessive bass of “We real cool”) and melodic ones (the strings and Cave’s voice). Even the tracks that appear less dark, like the fantastic ballad “Jubilee Street”, hint to a crescendo that is never actually fully carried out.
This is a record of a really high standard, with at least three or four tracks we label as masterpieces including “Push the sky away”, “Jubilee street”, “We no who u r”, the title track and of course “Higgs Boson blues”, a dark ballad staged in the world of scientific research in Geneva, revolving around guitar and vocals and pervaded by the tension and masterful sound that makes the Bad Seeds one of the world’s greatest groups of musicians.
In the end, “Push the sky away” doesn’t tell us a great deal about Nick Cave that we didn’t already know, but it does showcase his music from a very different angle. It does it in a spectacular fashion, delivering one of the best records of 2013 both in terms of songwriting and intensity. Even though we are only in February it’s a safe bet to say that this release will end up in our top-10 of the best records of the year.
"We no who u r"
"Wide lovely eyes"
"We real cool"
"Finishing jubilee street"
"Higgs boson blues"
"Push the sky away"