The growling, gnawing and gnashing sonic bite of Grinderman may now be dead and buried but its coital spirit lives on through ‘Push the Sky Away’ and Cave’s metaphor-riddled lyrics. Here, The Bad Seeds abandon the noise and thump by stripping down their existence to a restrained, plaintive and frequently sublime moody shuffle. By doing so it only serves to further illuminate the vast ability of the group: Jim Sclavunos transforms from a giant drum-pounding, bone-shaking machine to a gentle, opaque yet ubiquitous presence who – along with Thomas Wydler’s irrefragable, yet occasionally vacant, drumming – is responsible for some inexorably subtle and transcendent percussion. Warren Ellis is almost like a ghost, his trace perpetually floating throughout the record, glowing with a wild transparent hum. He almost acts as a living, breathing instrument himself. Cave’s vocals float with the warmth and texture of flowing molten lava, occasionally sparking with chunks of spitting ember. Martyn Casey slips into ‘The Boatman’s Call’ territory and displays a frightening degree of intellect, depth and restraint in his playing, at times simultaneously acting as both the heartbeat and respiratory function of the group. All of this is glued with seamless precision and tact by Nick Launay, who has superseded himself in the role of producer for the group.

Wonderfully, thirty years since their incarnation, album number fifteen still sounds like no other. The Bad Seeds can lose a life-long member (Mick Harvey), shed their life-long record label (Mute) and even integrate a sixteen year old girl into a prominent vocal role and not only is no gap felt on ‘Push The Sky Away’, but they still sound as vital, charged, atmospheric and bursting with forward momentum as they did in 1983.

Read all of our new album reviews here, in this month’s Loud And Quiet

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