(Bad Seed Ltd)
There’s a lot of Hevy Metulz albums sitting in the dusty pile in the corner of Demon Pigeon Towers that doubles as our latrine. They are mostly dreadful, with a few notable exceptions. But why on earth should any of us be bothered to review them when there is a new Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds album out? Why on earth would you want to be listening to some Djent when you could be listening to this instead?
This album is ace. You should go and buy it. Or listen to it for free somewhere. Or do whatever you want really. I don’t care. I’m too busy listening to this. Oh god, you want me to tell you why it’s good, don’t you? You clicked on a link expecting a sensible review, now there’s just a fat man telling you to go away. You don’t know I’m fat, obviously, but I am. I also have a beard, if that helps?
For those of you living under a rock or in a perpetual Death Metal fugue state, Cave and his merry band of Seeds have been carving a niche all of their own for decades with a potent blend of country, bluegrass, folk, blues, dirty rock, punk and whatever the hell kind of dark weirdness resides in Cave’s magical brain. Cave himself is a man of sublime excellence. He is the epitome of many things, all of them good. If you told me he was the proof of God I may well believe you. Well, no I wouldn’t, but you get my drift.
His lyrics make me want to dash my brains over the nearest sidewalk with their effortless brilliance. He also wears a suit better than any other man in the world, despite being a gangly and not particularly attractive man. That might not tell you anything about this album, but there you go.
This latest chapter sees Cave et al return from their rather more spiky and dirty Grinderman duties in more sombre and introspective mood, the nine tracks on offer here striking a middle ground between brooding intensity and effortless nonchalance. Cave is in full on storyteller mood as usual, his rich and off-kilter voice once again pouring menace into every line, imbuing even lines like ‘Hannah Montana/Does the African Savannah’ from the massive Higgs Boson Blues with a fearsome intensity. There is a track called Jubilee Street, then later another called Finishing Jubilee Street, which is about writing the aforementioned, but never does this feel like an indulgence, it feels part of the fabric of a woven tale, like a storyteller breaking into his own opus to tell you a curious aside.
The mastery of both vocal delivery and lyrics is why Cave remains an almost deified figure amongst his disciples, and he is in prime shamanistic form here. Of course you can be as lyrically dextrous and vocally engaging as all Gidea, but it matter not a jot if your songs are boring. This is a fact that Clutch have been doing their best to prove over their last few albums. That’s not a problem here though.
From opener We No Who U R with its silky bar room vibe, through to closer Push the Sky Away, with its deep reserves of melancholy, this is far leaner than its flashier predecessor Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! and infinitely more listenable. The songs move forward with an urgency, like Water’s Edge, which surges onwards to a climax with a pulsating bass groove, Cave’s voice almost a whisper. Jubilee Street feels like walking into some dirty saloon where all the locals are ignoring the band in the corner as they play their sleazy blues.
Mermaids suddenly rears up with an uplifting swell and a dark love letter from Cave. ‘I believe in the rapture/for I’ve seen your face,’ croons Cave. We Real Cool and Higgs Boson Blues are both just brilliant, the former driven by a dirty dirty bass riff and a simple piano line and swelling violins, the latter springing a massive chorus on you from out of nowhere. Nine tracks, and not an ounce of fat.
It may sound effortless, but this is focused, brilliant and lean. Of course, if you read any of the music press, none of this what is important. No, it’s much more important to talk about the fact that Cave’s wife is naked on the cover. Oh well. I don’t care. I just want to carry on listening to it. You should do the same.
Go listen to it/10