“Push the Sky Away” might just be the most beautiful album ever from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. That doesn’t mean it’s a cheery pop adventure. Rather it’s dark, slow, tense, hushed and thoroughly enveloping.
Using electronic loops, rumbling beats, strings with a few guitars and perfectly timed doses of keyboards, Cave and the Bad Seeds have created a sound that’s watery and hallucinatory, surging and drifting within and between the songs that feel like they’re part of a whole.
As always, the crooning Cave supplies gripping stories and images — the tale of a murdered prostitute on “Jubilee Street,” visions of lust on “Water’s Edge” and refutations of the digital culture on the spoken “Finishing Jubilee Street.”
“We Real Cool” uses Wikipedia as an example of not cool, and “We No Who U R” is a direct shot at Ke$ha and company from the very literary Cave.
He names bluesman Robert Johnson and, get this, Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus on the dynamic dramatic “Higgs Boson Blues.” Finally, Cave explores romance of a sort before the record closes with the wavering title cut that feels somehow optimistic, but still dark.
“Some people say it's just rock and roll, but it gets you right down to your soul,” Cave softly sings with female backing vocals. “You’ve got to just keep on pushing, keep on pushing, push the sky away.” Indeed. Grade: A-