Music, Print, Reviews March 12, 2013

Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Push the Sky Away”

by Sean Hunter

Push-The-Sky-Away-PACKSHOT1-768x768If anything can be said about Nick Cave, it’s that he never met a challenge he didn’t like. Over his nearly 30-year career, Cave has experimented with all facets of entertainment, from music to writing, acting to composing. Hot off the heels of his 2012 film Lawless, Nick Cave returned to the studio with his most successful career project, The Bad Seeds. Push The Sky Away was released on February 18th and features some of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ most cinematic music to date. On his own website, Cave describes the album as a “ghost-baby in the incubator.” If you can decipher what that means, Push The Sky Away is an album for you.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have found new ways to explore their distinctive sound with Push The Sky Away. The album is aided in part by the creative space it was recorded in: a 19th-century French mansion that doubles as a recording studio. The album itself seems to reflect the environment it was recorded in. Songs like the title track and “Finishing Jubilee Street” echo with the kind of calm that’s abundant in South France’s countryside. Though the album may feel “soft” at times, there is a bubbling anger behind each track that fans of The Bad Seeds will appreciate.

While this most recent outing is a far cry from Cave’s early work in The Birthday Party, it’s clear he hasn’t lost some of his more punk roots. Push The Sky Away is mainly an album about living in a world that is slowing dying. Songs like “We No Who U R” and “Water’s Edge” lean heavily on natural disasters to illustrate their message. The lines “We know who you are / We know where you live / And we know there’s no need to forgive” are a chilling reminder from Cave that in the modern world, there is no hiding from the people who wish to find you. Some songs are less cryptic, like the borderline comical “Higgs Boson Blues.” Overall, though, the message of Push The Sky Away is to be weary of the impact technology has on our lives. Luckily, Cave can pull this off without sounding like a crotchety old man.

Push The Sky Away is a unique outing for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Far gone are the days of Cave’s more visceral musical ventures, instead focusing on what’s the most basic way to convey a message musically. The band’s sound is certainly not worse off for this, conjuring powerful soundscapes that cradle Cave’s melancholic voice. Nick Cave’s time in the movie industry shows through in the album. Push The Sky Away feels like the soundtrack to a film Cave hasn’t gotten around to writing yet and, judging by the success of the album, it’s one many people would see.

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