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Lloyd is the author of this music review.
Listening to Nick Cave always makes me think in terms of body/soul dualities, and, perhaps inspired by Cave’s own prowess as a writer, I usually try to make them all literate and stuff. Cave’s music is a mixture of sanctity and sacrilege. The prurient and the pious. Erections and genuflections. And so forth.
The latest from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away, continues Cave’s tendency to revel in such contradictions. In fact, this album may represent one of his deepest explorations of the actual tensions inherent in humans’ often simultaneous needs to get their rocks off and to get right with God (in Cave’s universe, usually a vengeful Old Testament version thereof). Several prior albums saw Cave’s focus swing sharply toward one direction or the other, either sin and sex (Dig Lazarus Dig!!!, Grinderman) or quests, usually futile, for redemption and love (The Boatman’s Call, No More Shall We Part). It’s important to note here that the search for faith and the search for love are at minimum similar in nature, and at times inextricably bound, in Cave’s body of songs. Both love and faith are sought for their redemptive power, the possibility of solace, the betterment of one’s moral and spiritual self. When Cave is on a kick of writing about chaste, agape love for a woman, his sentiments take on the quality of worship, and when Cave is writing about the quest for faith, the forgiving God for whom he wishes is an object of loving adoration.
On Push the Sky Away, Cave still seems rather preoccupied with matters of the flesh, singing very graphically about sex organs and other body parts being “fired up,” “hot,” and “shaken” enticingly. But sonically, this album has much more in common with the Bad Seeds’ loveliest, holiest, most sweetly aching moments on The Boatman’s Call and No More Shall We Part.