Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away

A mercurial, magisterial, stick of seaside rock
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away

A beast less frenzied than we heard on ‘Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!’ or in the primordial swagger and hubris of Grinderman, this is a work of lyrical reflection and musical transcendence. Languorous opener ‘We Know Who U R’ is sinisterly sedate, its harmonies carried atop the breeze of  Warren Ellis’s flute. And despite a chugging start to ‘Wide Lovely Eyes’ it’s clear just two songs in that these are no collection of nocturnal libidinous lullabies but rather, refined ballads of contemporary life.

‘Water’s Edge’, all bulky bass and sonorous strings, has the same verbal and percussive propulsion as ‘The Carny’. Local boys salivate over risky visiting city girls with “Legs wide to the world / Like Bibles open”. It’s smirking and lascivious yet curiously tender. As is the beguiling, breathless ‘Mermaids’, constructed of shimmering reverb, the lightest whisper of drum and an enraptured vocal; like sunlight dancing over fathom deep water. Only Cave could wring such swelling gospel and wild word play from the God particle in one of the album’s highlights, ‘Higgs Boson Blues’, peopled with epidemic-spreading missionaries, Robert Johnson and Hannah Montana. All this propels us towards a beautiful thing to behold, the eponymous closer, steeped in sanguine emotion.

Over the course of fifteen albums the Bad Seeds have pedalled feral junkyard indignation, heinous crimes and doleful confessionals to arrive at this graceful place. Potent in its masculine restraint, this record has surely always existed, just waiting to be plucked from the surf; a mercurial, magisterial, stick of seaside rock.

9/10

Words by ANNA WILSON

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