Imagine somewhere grungy, where the surface of the bar is sticky, the floor is covered in dust and there is an aura of despair and hanging smoke. Imagine a man sitting as if he was flung into the corner he occupied years ago, mumbling words, tossing insults under his breath, nursing a headache and smelling faintly of a joint and scotch.
That man, in all his weathered and weary glory, is Push the Sky Away.
This latest instalment in Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ iconic 30-year journey smacks of subtlety and omniscience. Which may be surprising to some given Nick Cave’s infamous dabblings with cabaret, heroin and his dubious title of ‘Prince of Darkness’.
The first track ‘We No Who U R’ draws you in and out, mirroring the words “we breathe you in, breathe it in”, and is so light that once it ends you are left wondering whether you were listening to the song at all. It is all too easy to become caught up in Cave’s dulcet gravel of a voice.
On the other hand, prepared to have your trance disturbed by the restless and disjointed beauty that is ‘Water’s Edge’. Ethereal and desperate, Cave observes that “the chill of love is coming down, people”, and indeed, after having your brain pulled in all different directions by a Turkish-inspired introduction, tale of a gang’s sexual exploits, and a bass line that speaks Mission Impossible, the strings at the conclusion come as a relief.
Jump to ‘Jubilee Street’ which sounds like the love-child of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, Pete Murray, and David Bowie and is perhaps the highlight of the album. It runs sweetly lyrical and is lifted above the other tracks by a mocking line of violin which transcends the Baroque era into an intense anecdote of a man teasing his way between God and a brothel.
One can only be reverential to musical genius upon hearing the droll and humorous ‘Higgs Boson Blues’, which builds from a chasse to “preach in a language that is completely new” to something you might imagine a Bob Dylan dancing hypnotically around a tree to.
There is no doubt that the Bad Seeds have struck success once again, and despite a long slog of a career, the maturity evident in this album only serves to have you gasping for more.