I wouldn’t describe myself as the biggest Nick Cave fan. I have not been there since the beginning nor do I own the Bad Seeds full back catalogue or even both Grinderman records. However, one day I was introduced to Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus by a friend and I fell in love with his work instantly. It’s hard to explain what grabbed me instantly that day but there was an instant connection for sure. I did buy some other albums, the Boatman’s Call being at the top of my LOVE list. And I even, unlike most, enjoyed the last Bad Seeds outing Dig Lazarus Dig. Seeing him live was also an amazing, and quite spiritual, experience. So, I have been looking forward to this record for some time. And believe me, it was worth the wait.
For fans of Nick Cave the mad gesticulating, preacher man. For fans of Bad Seeds heavy guitar attacks – this record might not be for you. It’s chilled, but not in a Boatman’s Call kind of piano led way either. No, this is at times challenging, it’s definitely odd and it’s just fantastic.
It’s kind of odd. There are drums going on but it took me a good few listens to actually notice them properly. All the tension and builds seem to be done without the need for drums. Looking back, my initial perceptions were perhaps a little off but there is still a creative spark to this record that goers beyond the need for the conventional instrumentation of previous records. Heavily lead by the violin of Warren Ellis tracks like ‘We Real Cool’ are just sublime. ‘Jubilee Street’ is another fantastic track driven on by Cave and his usual brilliant lyricism. But it’s not heavy and it’s not aggressive and it’s not flamboyant or over the top. It’s restrained. It’s gritty and beautiful. Summed up perfectly by album closer and title track ‘Push the Sky Away’.
The art for this record is also beautiful. Easy to say it’s a hot naked girl and that’s why you like it. But that photograph! Wow. I want to own it, frame it and put it somewhere I can see it every day. It’s stunning. And not often does a piece of art perfectly reflect the music on offer on the disc within. It’s a little bit naughty. A little bit playful. A little bit dirty. A little bit beautiful. It’s a bit dark and a bit light. And it’s hugely brilliant, highlighting the Bad Seeds as still massively relevant and important and completely capable of mixing up their sound in such a delightful way. Not bad for album 15 really.