The last album from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, 'The Lyre of Orpheus/Abbatoir Blues' was amazing. Given the space of a double album we got to hear their full range from the gospel choir backed Get Ready For Love to the tender Babe, You Turn Me On. I played it again and again, consistently amazed by the sheer energy captured. I used to think Nick Cave was a bit rubbish once upon a time. I'd only seen him a couple of times, once duetting with Kylie Minogue, and to my ears he seemed to be having trouble hitting the notes. Talk about missing the point. Cave may not have the best voice in the world but, boy, does he know how to deliver a song. He also writes some of the best lyrics going, real storytelling through song, and a wicked sense of humour running through it all.
So now that the man himself has turned 50 what should we expect from the latest studio album? A maturing outlook, an album of reflection, a pipe and slippers? Of course not. This new album is a little harder in sound, influenced by last years Grinderman project. The title track gets things underway with a swagger and the risen Lazarus now in modern day New York and, by the end of the track, a dope fiend. As Cave shouts, 'He never asked to be raised up from the tomb'. Night Of The Lotus Eaters has an extraordinary bass line, reminiscent of the kind of backing Tricky used to great effect on his early albums building a sense of rhythmic unease. The same kind of repetitive beat is used on We Call Upon The Author, a lyrically adventurous rant about the very act of writing which uses one of The Bad Seeds great strengths the choral shout, the call to listeners which involves you in the music you're listening to.
It isn't all garage rock. Hold On To Yourself sounds much more like the gentle brilliance of The Lyre Of Orpheus and Jesus Of The Moon is quite beautiful, hiding an emotional 'punch in the heart' amongst its simple strings and flute. The range of playing, especially from the multi-talented Warren Ellis, is as exciting as that previous double album and what it lacks in depth it almost makes up for in brilliant lyrics and sheer sense of humour. Nick Cave has the kind of creative momentum and confidence going at the moment that bands a fraction of his age would kill for. Happy 50th!
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Jesus Of The Moon