Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Push The Sky Away

Cave returns with a haunting post-apocalypse masterwork.

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DIG, LAZARUS DIG!!!, in 2008, consolidated Cave’s untouchable position at the forefront of singer-songwriters, the Bad Seeds’ supernatural telepathy ejaculating stratospheric backdrops for his most complex lyrics yet, still riding the infernal energy of the Grinderman project.

Steam suitably let off, they haven’t attempted to top its animated bombast, instead cooling to a spectral reverie that was described by Cave, in long-playing offspring terms, as “the ghost-baby in the incubator”.

Produced by Nick Launay at a 19th-century mansion studio in the South of France, Cave’s latest modern fables are inspired by his Brighton home and weird internet tales, also nodding at the love songs he turned into an art form on 1997’s The Boatman’s Call – although the exquisitely bottomless ‘Mermaids’ juxtaposes both.

His voice also boasts new powers, like the wracked croak of big bang physics-inspired epic Higgs Boson Blues, (namechecking Robert Johnson, Lucifer and Hannah Montana), often ethereally enhanced by soft female counter vocals. The Bad Seeds are on top maximum sympathy form, spinning the required gossamer backdrops with bespoke subtlety – witness Warren Ellis’s weeping violins on Water’s Edge’s gently malevolent take on transient youth.

By the time the title track’s inspiring sepulchral whisper has ebbed down, it’s soul-swivellingly apparent that not only have the Bad Seeds delivered another healthy baby, but perhaps the most gracefully beautiful of the whole brood.

Kris Needs

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!