Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
I picked up another album by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds the other day and realized that even though I have many different albums by them, I haven't reviewed anything by them on my site. Considering how damn cool I think they are, I thought that it was a travesty and I set about in a quick hurry to remedy that situation by pulling out one of my favorite releases by them and exposing it to those who might not have heard their excellence.
Now, just in case you think I'm going to stop gushing, let me tell you that Nick Cave is probably one of the coolest rock singers ever in my eyes. Not only was he a singer in the now defuct Birthday Party (and if you've heard their live album, you'll know he left it all out on the stage every night they performed), but his work with the Bad Seeds (a revolving group of musicians that includes everyone from Blixa Bargeld of Einsturzende Neubauten to Warren Ellis of the Dirty Three) has spannned roughly 10 albums and he's sang with Shane MacGowen, Rowland Howard, PJ Harvey, and even Kylie Minogue before it was cool again. He's even written books, as if he doesn't seem like a natural from reading through his lyrics. Basically, he's a walking badass with raven black hair and even when listening to studio albums, you can tell that he's putting every ounce of himself into singing the songs.
While almost all the albums by the group start out on a strong foot (and mostly continue that pace throughout), Let Love In is no different and probably even more powerful than most. After the introduction of a rumbling bassline, a couple guitars, drums and organ crash in and swagger along until Cave himself adds yet another layer with an almost playful piano. His vocals on the track range from breathy and cool to slightly agitated, and when the backup vocal chorus comes in, it sounds almost a bit overwhelming. Of course, that's the point of the track it sounds like some sort of multi-layered rambling saloon song. By the time the second, more introspective song "Nobody's Baby Now" arrives, it's a welcome breath of relief.
But it's really just a short respite, because with "Loverman" Cave and the Bad Seeds lure you in during the first part of the track like a coiled serpent with almost whispered vocals and hushed instruments before the chorus absolutely explodes with bells and just about every other kind of percussion available to them. The group works the quiet/loud edge a couple more times over the course of the track and they manage to capture both seductiveness and pure sexual frenzy in just over 6 minutes. After the frantic "Jangling Jack," the group follows up things with quite possibly one of the coolest tracks ever. Heard in countless movies, "Red Right Hand" is a lush, cinematic track that uses fairly minimal instrumentation to conjure up images of the darkest back alleys and streets you could think of. Basically, if you had this being played as your theme music, nobody would mess with you.
And that's just the first half of the album. The second half follows things up almost just as solid with songs like the rollicking "Thirsty Dog," the haunting "Ain't Gonna Rain Anymore," and the slower, darker follow-up to the album opener with "Do You Love Me? (Part 2)." Not only does Cave manage to squeeze out every emotion vocally, but the instrumentation provided by the amazing artists working as the Bad Seeds is varied, lush, and fit the lyrical content of the songs amazingly. The lyrics are ones that you'll find yourself singing along with. Cave is obviously a well read musician and his words come across almost as self-contained stories each time, painting vivid images without sounding cheesy or the slightest bit cliche. While I've yet to hear a bad (or even mediocre) album by the group, this stands out as one of their best.