Push the Sky Away is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ fifteenth studio album. It was released on February 13th, 2013 on Bad Seed Ltd., the band’s very own label. The album was released to very favorable reviews.
I’m not going to sit here and talk about Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds as if I know who they are or what they stand for or how they normally sound. Embarrassingly enough, as a music fan, Push the Sky Away is the very first Bad Seeds album I’ve ever made the time to listen to. There are some people, mostly Australian people, who would give me quite the verbal lashing for that. “Fourteen albums!” They would say. “You couldn’t listen to even one of them?” The band is a bit of a source of pride for their fellow countrymen. I would humbly take the blame for my negligence. Perhaps even apologize a little bit. However, I would argue this. If the rest of their works sound anything like Push the Sky Away, it is only myself who I have been hurting.
As a matter of taste, the word “brooding”, more often than not, comes up in lists of adjectives describing my favorite albums. As far as this album is concerned, they could have named it “Brooding” and no sane individual could possibly wonder why.
Musically, the album sounds like a dying man’s answer to “If given a second run at it, what would you change?”. Lyrically, the album sounds like a dying man’s answer to “If asked to write down a set of lyrics that could make a house cat tear up, what would you write down?” In an effort to explain that one, I’ll say that house cats, though adorable, are in my experience mostly emotionless. Therefore, making one of them tear up would be one hell of an accomplishment.
Like I said, I’m not going to assume that this is standard fare for these Bad Seeds, but I would love to. There isn’t one track on this album that isn’t striking in one way or another. Opener “We No Who U R”, though grammatically troublesome in title, hits you right away with a kind of echoey goodness that makes you want to go skip stones at your local lake on a cloudy day, if you’re lucky enough to have a local lake and enjoy a climate that allows for a few cloudy days here and there. Its unsettling chorus consists of a simple “We know who you are/and we know where you live/and we know there’s no need to forgive”. It ingeniously leaves you threatened and consoled all in the same line. It’s just good songwriting.
Another stand out track, “Jubilee Street”, starts with a simple guitar riff that reminds me a bit of John Frusciante’s famous riff at the beginning of the RHCP staple, “Under the Bridge”. This haunting riff, at one speed or another, continues throughout the entire six and a half minute running time, but not for one second do you want it to stop. Pepper in bubblegum/next level lyrics like “I got love in my tummy and a tiny little pain/and a ten ton catastrophe on a sixty pound chain” and you’ve got yet another song that should make every top ten list but never will.
This is the kind of album that would be great to turn on while you’re upset and just say things like “That’s right!” and “So true, brother!” to yourself out loud. Matter of fact, I think i’ll do that right now. Even though I’m not upset because I’m so pumped about this album.
This so far gushing review is not to say that Push the Sky Away doesn’t have its faults. There are times when you, as the listener, might want the tempo to pick up a bit. It will not. It is a crawler, for better or worse. So if you’re not the silent, wait your turn type, maybe steer clear of this disc, but know that you’re a fool for doing so. Also, there are times when front man Nick Cave sounds like he’s doing his best impression of Warren Zevon. Again, a good problem to have, and he might do that all the time, I don’t know. Still, if I’m noticing it, it’s a distraction.
Other notable tracks include, “Finishing Jubilee Street”, “Wide Lovely Eyes”, and the title track. I’m going to go listen to some earlier Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums and get those Aussies off my back. Consider Push the Sky Away recommended.