Album Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have had quite a journey in the thirty-some years since the group’s inception. The music has evolved a great deal, yet so has the band’s physical composition: Nick Cave is now the only original member still in the permanent lineup, though Push the Sky Away features contributions from Barry Adamson, an original member who has not been with the band since 1986.

The quasi-rotating lineup has resulted in an evolving sound that remains familiar largely due to the constant presence of Cave’s dark, baritone vocals.

In Push the Sky Away, the Bad Seeds embark on a new leg of their musical journey. The album is raw and evocative, and while past albums had a tendency to be packed with rock ballads, Push the Sky Away is mellow and much less guitar-heavy. Though it certainly marks a shift in style, the album is yet another manifestation of the band’s ability to produce quality alternative rock songs.

In somewhat of a contrast with its melancholy sound, the album’s lyrics are resolute and honest, and cover a range of material. “We Know Who U R” refers to Cave’s aversion to text messaging as a form of conversation. “Higgs Boson Blues” offers a critique of social inequality by contrasting pursuits of the upper class, such as scientific advancement and missionary work, with the suffering of marginalized people at their expense. On a lighter note, the title track rounds off the album with a classic affirmation of the importance of persistence.

In Push the Sky Away, Nick Cave mulls over a bounty of ideas, while the Bad Seeds prove musical support that is simultaneously haunting and pleasing to the ear. Having been together for over thirty years, and producing great alternative rock albums all the while, the group certainly had a license to experiment, the product of which is another quality album.

Rating: 8/10

– Sarah Butler, host of Traffic Jams, Tuesdays 12pm-1pm

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