NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS ‘PUSH THE SKY AWAY’

I have to start by admitting that despite this being the band’s fifteenth album, I am not too familiar with the breadth and depth of what is contained within the back catalogue. I am led to believe that this album is inspired, in part by Nick cave’s adopted home town of Brighton (like the Kenelis EP ‘Move’ that I recently enjoyed reviewing), and selected trivia from Wikipedia. That last prompted me to turn to the internet for further information. My second admission is that I am probably more familiar with the recordings of The Birthday party, from whose ‘ashes’ Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds emerged in 1983. A good friend of mine has done his best to introduce me to the broader range of The Bad Seeds’ output, but it is the unlikely collaboration with Kylie Minogue that still pops into my head when I first think of them. Whilst ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ brought them some commercial exposure, the band have a loyal cult following based on much more than that. Listening to ‘Push The Sky Away’, which was recorded in a 19th century French mansion, I can understand why.

I usually prefer to listen to albums a number of times before committing to summarise my thoughts and impressions but as a result of trying to meet an end of month deadline I have written this after fewer listens than usual. After all I strongly believe that any album that has been sweated over and emotionally invested in over a long period of time deserves much more than some cursory ‘first hearing’ shallow comment. It seems clear from outset that this is something very special indeed. As previously noted, it is partially inspired by internet trivia; certainly much rubbish can be found on the internet but undoubtedly there are some diamonds amongst these copious amounts of dirt. This album is like an uncut diamond amongst that dirt; I am convinced that successive hearings will serve to cut and polish it for me to reveal a multi-faceted gem.

With lyrics such as “I got a foetus, on a leash”, this is definitely rather edgy, more so than their more recent albums according to my friend Craig who senses echoes of their ‘Grinderman’ albums, and believes that it has brought back some of the early Seeds’ ‘finger to the world’ thinking. The text-speak titled opening track did not immediately strike me as Nick Cave, and I doubt that I would have come close to guessing correctly if asked to suggest who it was had I heard it in other circumstances. Having said that, I did like the mood that it set; that mood wasn’t to last. Unsurprisingly this album is not repetitive and moves through a thought-provoking range of emotions. ‘Waters’ Edge’ was the first one where I was left in no doubt about the originators of it as Nicks’ distinctive vocal style and intonation are very clear to see. I look forward to listening again in order to seek to decode the lyrics which are delivered with obvious heart-felt eloquence. The eight tracks presented here are multi-layered and evocative – strings and imagery, reminiscent of John Cale and Neil Young respectively, only hint at the masterful complexity waiting to be explored and appreciated. The band are expertly augmented by a number of additional musicians which helps to ensure the breadth and depth of musical content.

NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS

Nick Cave – vocals, piano, electric piano, additional mixing, design

Warren Ellis – violin, viola, tenor guitar, flute, synthesizer, electric piano, loops, backing vocals, additional mixing

Martyn P. Casey – bass (1–6, 8), backing vocals

Barry Adamson – bass (7, 9), backing vocals

Conway Savage – vocals, backing vocals

Thomas Wydler – drums, backing vocals

Jim Sclavunos – percussion, backing vocals

ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS

George Vjestica – twelve-string guitar (4, 5), backing vocals (5, 8)

Chris Dauray – saxophone (8)

Jessica Neilson – bass clarinet (8)

Ryan Porter – trombone (8)

Antonio Beliveau – backing vocals (1, 3, 7, 9)

Aya Peard – backing vocals (1, 3, 7, 9)Jason Evigan – backing vocals (1, 3, 7, 9)

Natalie Wilde – backing vocals (1, 3, 7, 9)

Martha Skye Murphy – backing vocals (1, 3, 7)

Children Of Ecole Saint Martin – backing vocals (4, 8, 9)

1/ We No Who U R

2/ Wide Lovely Eyes

3/ Waters’ Edge

4/ Jubilee Street

5/ Mermaids

6/ We Real Cool

7/ Finishing Jubilee Street

8/ Higgs Bosson Blues

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