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Review: Nick Cave predictably unpredictable in 'Push the Sky Away'

February 19, 2013|By Randall Roberts
  • Australian musician Nick Cave performs with his band The Bad Seeds in Berlin.
Australian musician Nick Cave performs with his band The Bad Seeds in Berlin. (Britta Pedersen / EPA )

Songwriter, novelist, singer, screenwriter and dramatist Nick Cave's 15th record with his longtime backing band the Bad Seeds, "Push the Sky Away," is not a work to be appreciated casually. Cave delves into a meandering, meditative world that rarely offers the kind of hooks or tethers that dictate toe-tapping singalongs.

But Cave fans understand that following such a mercurial and curious artist dictates adjusting expectations, adapting to new scenarios and, most important, listening closely. The slow-burning pace of "Push the Sky Away" requires all of the above, as well as a love for gruff piano and string ballads and Cave's conversational warble. In the title track, lyrics remain predictably mysterious, with disconnected lines about the sky, an unshakable feeling and a belief that rock 'n' roll "gets you right down to your soul."

"Push the Sky Away" isn't going to change many minds about Cave. Those who have little time for his full-throated delivery, his dark, meandering tones and gradually unfolding structures will find little to love. But those with a patient appreciation for Cave's dramatic sense, and the ways in which his singular musical voice has evolved over years, will find much to focus on within.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

"Push the Sky Away"

(Bad Seed Ltd.)

Three stars (out of four)

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