Nick Cave, Nocturama

NickCave-Nocturama2-768x738Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave has made a pretty good living out of feeling bad. His and the Bad Seeds latest, Nocturama is released this month on Anti Records. Cave’s music has always stared into the abyss but beginning with 1997’s The Boatman’s Call, he drew a bead on his own demons. Where that record may have suffered from an errant self-indulgence (and sparse participation from Cave’s band, The Bad Seeds), Nocturama finds a balance between the soul-searching piano dirges and the dark, violence-threatening rave-ups of classic Cave tracks.

“He Wants You” features a pretty piano melody and yearning vocal. Its composition is tight and restrained. “Dead Man in my Bed” is a frantic and noisy organ-driven rocker. “Still In Love” is as empty as a ghost town. Its space and Cave’s deep, forlorn voice is enough to send chills down your spine even in broad daylight. “Babe I’m On Fire” recalls Cave and the Bad Seeds’ early days as well as their former band, The Birthday Party. Its verse – a version of a blues figure – repeats to the bounds of patience, but in the nine-plus minutes, the song gathers such menace that one wonders how the band could ever end it. When they do, the resulting silence is even creepier.

This sort of musical schizophrenia might be too much for the casual listener to tolerate, but for the longtime fan who has felt Cave drifting lately, this record is as solid as his best work and surpasses all in its superior production.

[This review originally appeared in The Scene.]