Nick Cave? I had no place for him so far. Having heard his first album somewhere in the mid-80s, I had heard enough sort of forever. I did listen to the first Grinderman album a few times. Why, I don't know, but I'm listening to Push the sky away and I won't stop doing so for a while. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have made an impressive album that indented an impression in my brain that will be showing for quite some time.
The difference can't only be that now both Bad Seeds' guitarists have left the band. Push the sky away holds cerebral music, deeply emotional, hinting at depths fathoms below the surface, where in the dark foreboding things lurk we may not see but surely sense. And hear, in a dark sound mixed somewhere completely in the background, just audible while at the same time light male and female voices sing something resembling a chorus. 'Finishing Jubilee Street' is such an impressive song. Not so much because there is a lot going on, it just seems to envelope the world. This is the surprising thing about this album, it seems very standard, but is full of these details, that make it very special.
Textually Cave takes the listener on a trip to Geneva, where he sees Robert Johnson and Lucifer, he puts God on the same level as a mermaid, as he believes in both. Praises Wikipedia, sings about Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus in Africa and having had sex with her. Not that the songs make logical stories, a lot is going on in them, a lot to listen to. All sung with his deep voice, in a resigned, dignified and calm way. Perhaps what Jim Morrison would have sounded like a 69. Again the contrast between Nick Cave's voice and the background vocals is worth mentioning, as it creates a beautiful contrast in the sound.
As there are not a lot of guitars on Push the sky away there's room for strings, keyboards, soundscapes. 'We no who u r' has this beautiful mechanised rhythm and flute sound. The background noise of 'Push the sky away' reminds me of the sounds in 'Achterboeg' by De Kift. (A piece of wood screeching in the Arctic wind.) Most songs have a signifying sound that make it stand out among its brethren. In the hands of anyone else this album would have become easy listening, with Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds it is anything but easy listening. On the other hand, if Scott Walker had wanted to make a traditional album, 'Bish Bosch' would have sounded something like Push the sky away is my guess. Listen to 'Water's edge' and you will know what I mean. Although Leonard Cohen may want to cover this song. The ending is perfect for him: "It's the will of love, it's the thrill of love, it's the chill of love".
So it is 2013 and I'm enjoying my first Nick Cave album ever. I promise to reach back and see if I did miss something in the past 30 odd years. You never know. For now I am listening to one of the first albums of this new year that really made an impression.
Listening to Push the sky away again before publishing, I notice something that may explain my attraction to this The Bad Seeds album. It reminds me faintly of Lou Reed, but sorry Mr. Reed, this album is so much more impressionable and inspriring than anything you've released since 1992's 'Magic and loss'.
Let me end with sounding praise for 'Jubilee Street'. This song is so beautiful, that there is only one thing left to write: just go and listen to it!
You can order Push the sky away here