Australian alternative rock band Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds have been a consistent musical force over the past 30 years. Their newest album, Push the Sky Away, proves that they’re still relevant, using haunting, minimalistic instrumentation to create an eerie atmosphere that holds steady over the album’s nine tracks.
Despite the restrained sound, Push the Sky Away is never dull. From the threatening chorus of album opener “We No Who U R” to the moody existential crisis of “Higgs Boson Blues,” Cave’s baritone voice commands but never overwhelms. Melodies ebb and flow well enough to keep the listener intrigued. Even with the reserved sound, the album still has some grandiose moments. “Jubilee Street” ends with a flurry of strings, mimicking the level of orchestral grandeur heard on Cave’s iconic cut “O Children” from 2004’s The Lyre of Orpheus.
Alongside Cave’s standard lyrical themes of nature, loneliness, and prostitution are mentions of Wikipedia and Hannah Montana. With song titles like “We No Who U R” and “We Real Cool,” one might think that 55-year-old Cave is trying to fit in with a younger demographic, but ultimately, this is his way of accepting that times have changed. Nevertheless, the rationale doesn’t make these elements any less jarring.
Push The Sky Away is a departure from the louder sound of The Lyre of Orpheus and 2008’s Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!. The album proves that the band’s solid musicianship makes for a good—albeit unsettling—listen.