Nick Cave is an uncaring bastard.
He doesn't care if you buy his new album Push The Sky Away, nor does he care if you like it. Of course, this is not what makes him a great artist. What makes him a great artist is the uncompromising nature of his work. The man does whatever the hell he wants to, and everything else are mere obstacles - Impediments to the work at hand.
Of course, this is all just a theory. Who the hell knows what's going on in his head. The guy tends to answer most interviewers questions by telling them to go fuck themselves. And so, while we can speculate until the mods come home, what really matters is whether the work is good. In this case, we can say unequivocally that the work is good. So good, in fact, that Push the Sky Away could very well be the most fully realized album of Cave's career.
The man has always been the master of the brood, A dark romantic with a hint of danger. Here, particularly on tracks like "We Real Cool" and "Water's Edge", the man sounds downright cruel. There's always been an underlying malevolence with Cave that has reared it's head briefly on each of his 15 albums, but on Push The Sky Away, track after track, the funeral procession drives by and all we can do is watch and listen silently until it passes.
It should be noted that this is the first Bad Seeds album to not feature Mick Harvey, who I daresay is scarcely missed because haunting Cave every step of the way is the twisted brilliance of Warren Ellis. The Renfield to Cave's Dracula - the real reason why Cave never became boring or fell victim to his own devices. The accoutrements Harvey provides, be they percussion, strings, brass or woodwind are invaluable to the sound of the Bad Seeds and his work here on Push the Sky Away ranks among his best. There's a stark subtle beauty to his work on this album in particular that lays in stark contrast to Cave's brash lyrics and his more bombastic work in Grinderman and The Dirty Three. Bust out the headphones for proof. Martyn P. Casey on bass masterfully provides much of the atmosphere and tension with a deft, heavy hand.
The non-sequiturial nature of Cave's lyrics have been a source of many a heated discussion over the years. "Higgs Boson Blues" being a prime example of the divisiveness. The song finds Cave at his storytelling groove-driven best but surely stands alone as the spookiest name-check of Hannah Montana in the history of music. There's not many folks that can get away with it, let alone providing a chill in the process, but get away with it, he does. If Push the Sky Away is the portrait of an artist in the sundowning phase of his career, here's hoping the sun never sets.
8.5 / 10
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