With his side project Grinderman allowing Nick Cave to indulge in a bit of sweaty rock grunting, and periodically expunge that lust, Cave’s 15th album with The Bad Seeds drew from his more reflective persona. Essentially, that means you get quiet and moody Nick Cave, rather than loud and moody Nick Cave.
Push The Sky Away is largely sparse, generally menacing and intense (this is Cave, after all), but occasional fragments of electric piano create moments of touching calm and beauty. Over the course of its nine tracks, melodies are explored, allowed to grow and die naturally, and nothing is over-developed. Just when you’re welcoming in what passes for a chorus in Finishing Jubilee Street, Cave’s account of a dream he had after completing Jubilee Street, the track fades until all your left with is the dislocating feeling of having woken from your own dream; such joy if only you could better recall its shapes and patterns. Before you can truly wake yourself, Higgs Boson Blues comes drifting over, all talk of particle physics and Hannah Montana. All this would be unsettling if it wasn’t for the loops and repeated refrains that tether the album.
At the center of Push The Sky Away is Jubilee Street, a Cave/Bad Seeds tour de force of lyrical and musical storytelling. It builds, over the course of its six and a half minutes, to an almost euphoric string finale. By the close, only the guitar that’s been there all along, gradually growing in intensity, reminds you that this started out as a song about a murdered prostitute.
FYI… the official video, starring Cave alongside the magnificent Ray Winstone, is an edit of the track - for the full version of Jubilee Street, listen on Spotify or Soundcloud.