Nick Cave

Push the Sky Away (Bad Seeds Ltd.)

SXSW 2013 Records

Nick Cave

Push the Sky Away (Bad Seeds Ltd.)

Nick Cave reassembled the Bad Seeds – minus Mick Harvey – but the unlikely sound of him singing softly over rhythmic electronic blips leaves the impression he stepped into Danger Mouse's studio on his way to the Push the Sky Away sessions. A virtuoso of rage and restlessness, Cave changes chameleon colors once again in this meditation on aging and modern life. "We know who you are, we know where you live, and we know there's no need to forgive, again." That setup from the ill-grammatical opener "We No Who U R" launches a fetid, album-length political stream-of-consciousness, filled with old-man lust and disgust, and employing narrative skills the Australian songwriter honed as a screenwriter and novelist. "Their legs wide to the world like Bibles open/to be speared and taking their bodies apart like toys," Cave half-moans, half-speaks over plinking strings and hushed snares on "Water's Edge." "The chill of love is coming home." More conventionally captivating, "Jubilee Street" follows, a toe-tapper that could be a Leonard Cohen rough draft with whorehouse scenes and the indelible line, "I've got a fetus on a leash." Then back to the water with "Mermaids": "I believe in God/I believe in mermaids too/I believe in 72 virgins on a chain/I believe in the rapture for I've seen your face/On the floor of the ocean." It all adds up to a challenging song cycle, with few clues as to whether Cave's playacting some sort of cosmic joke – he sings about Miley Cyrus on "Higgs Boson Blues" – or simply vented enough spleen in Grinderman. Whichever, it's fascinating. (7:45pm, Stubb's)

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