When asked to describe his band’s fifteenth studio album, “Push The Sky Away,” Nick Cave, frontman of the Australian alternative rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, said: “Well, if I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children, then “Push The Sky Away” is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren’s loops are its tiny, trembling, heart-beat.”
According to the official Nick Cave website, the songs in “Push The Sky Away” took form in a modest notebook over the course of almost a year. Most of the songs on the album discuss the vastness of the Internet and how significant events sit side-by-side trivial facts and gibberish. In terms of how it will sound to your ears, all of the songs on the album in general are calm and sparse, allowing listeners to really hear and appreciate Cave’s unique, eerie and almost sinister vocals.
The opening song on the track is “We No Who U R,” which includes atmospheric synth layering, some slow percussion and a series of flute scales coupled with Nick Cave’s haunting voice. Combined with the woodwinds and the female voice to add texture, it’s a good opening song that sets up the sound of the rest of the album. The droning tones and sometimes-creepy sounds we hear in this track only serve to enhance the album’s overall dark yet calming tones.
The tempo picks up a little bit in the following track, “Wide Lovely Eyes.” With lines like “Your dress sighs with your wide lovely strides” and “I watch your hands like butterflies landing all among the myths and legends we create,” this track is one of many on the album that showcases Cave’s astounding talent as a poet.
Following “Wide Lovely Eyes” is “Water’s Edge,” a track heavy-laden with bass scales and loops that serves as a space where multiple other instruments can shine. Another hit track on the album is “Jubilee Street,” which starts with a sparse and repetitive, yet beautiful guitar riff. It picks up halfway through the song to include violins and another guitar, adding more to the instrumental layering which takes the song to a different level.
The next track, “Higgs Boson Blues,” is riveting as it conjures up images of a tired and exhausted man slumped over a bar with a drink in his hand. In the song, Cave groans and croons, telling a story of trees on fire and of watching the devil and Robert Johnson making a deal. At the end of the song, Cave asks to be buried in his favorite yellow patent leather shoes. The calm melodies interspersed with Cave’s vocal mastery to croak and moan every last syllable make this one the hit song on the album.
The album closes with the title track, “Push The Sky Away.” Here we are introduced again to that female voice, which serves to add some nice texture to the track. Close your eyes while listening to this track and you might just feel like you are taking a momentary trip to outer space.
While it may not always be apparent what instruments you are hearing when you listen to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, what you will hear are interesting nuances, instrumental looping mastery and simple melodies serving as backdrop to some beautifully written lyrics.