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Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are a musical institution these days, this is especially true with Nick Cave himself. From The Birthday Party to Grinderman, he’s been staring at us with disdain and contempt since the early 80s. These days residents of Brighton scour the streets to add another tally in already long list of Cave sightings, while at the same time hoping he doesn’t crash his car into them. I’d like to take this moment to say that, having lived in Brighton for 5 years, I still haven’t seen him and apparently he was even attending the same Kills gig I did a couple of years back. Anyway, that’s not exactly important.

So, this is their 15th studio album and it’s called Push the Sky Away, which I’m sure has some artistic meaning, but we’ll not delve into that because it’s an album title and no one really cares that much about them. This is the first time I’ve listened to a full album by this artist, mostly because I’m a musical heathen and have never gotten round to it. I really, really should have paid attention years ago.

This is an absolutely incredible album that is a masterclass in songwriting, style and instrumentation. It pretty much sums up what so many other bands lack and what causes their disappearance into the void once all the hype dies down. An album’s worth of great tracks does not a good band make; it just makes a good album. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are an example of a great band and it’s easy to see why they’re still going after 30 years. The best thing about this album is that it doesn’t sound try-hard or pretentious, it sounds crafted. Carefully looked over, altered, changed and edited until it reached the point of perfection as perceived by the band. A point, I predict, that will be widely agreed on.

This isn’t an album that screams for your attention. It kind of beckons you from around a dark corner. You’re dragged into it before you know it and you can feel yourself being pulled along with it. Despite being fairly restrained, it has a lot of motion and strength to it. I think it’s the bass that does it for the most part, it swaps between growling and mewing, just flickering underneath the surface, occasionally rising to take you in the right direction.

Some of the most skilled parts of this album are the backing vocals. They’re not there for any arbitrary reason. Each and every one is placed with precision to enhance that part of the song. They’re not just stuck in as a necessity at any point. This rings true for nearly all of the instruments. Very few are ever present throughout an entire song. Different parts appear for just a bit then disappear back into the darkness again. This whole album gives renewed strength to the age-old cliche that less is more.

Frankly, there is nothing I can fault about this album and I could probably write for days about it, but that’s unnecessary. I mean, this album has a song called “Higgs Boson Blues” that references Robert Johnson’s meeting with the Devil. That should be enough to get you interested. In fact, you could probably just replace this whole review with that sentence.

Release date: 18th Febuary 2013

About Joshua Danton Boyd