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by Stephen Moore
Friday, February 22, 2013
With a lyrical outlook tempered by time, Cave reflects on love and life through a glass of crafted, measured but evocative music
Devoid of darkly gothic swirls and visceral ear-bleeding guitar squall, Cave’s return with the Bad Seeds for their 15th studio record is other-worldly and reflective - but still as intoxicating as anything he’s done.
Multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis works up songs formed in Cave’s notebook with an understated, filmic drama.
Opening duet We No Who U R employs reedy flute and glockenspiel, eliciting a misty atmosphere, while Water’s Edge boasts restless, organic whisps and eddies, Cave’s trademark spoken-word tracts adding a withered intensity that’s strangely engrossing.
It doesn’t end there: ‘I was out of place and time, and over the hill and out of my mind’ he sings with wizened exasperation in the run up to Jubilee Street’s string-laden, swooning but chastened climax.
Then Hannah Montana and Robert Johnson both feature in the rumbling, fitful Higgs Boson Blues, a darkly comic, half-spoken eight minutes of incantations and playful mashing of images, perspectives and language that keeps you on your toes.
Jittery bassline and the odd string shiver expertly ratchets up the tension of We Reel Cool, too; proof that the lighter touch can still stoke the soul.