Only Nick Cave could go from the discovery of the "God particle" to Miley Cyrus' swimming habits in the space of one song.
The way he accomplishes that in "Higgs Boson Blues," the standout track from his new "Push the Sky Away" (Bad Seed) album, offers a good insight into how Cave and The Bad Seeds work. The epic, seven-minute-plus track is actually a love song, with Cave pledging "You're the best girl I've ever had" to the woman who sticks with him during the journey through physics and pop culture, with stops to pay homage to Robert Johnson and the blues.
After all, Johnson sang of his life and times and a battle with his devils. Cave might as well sing about his.
"Push the Sky Away" is more laid back and contemplative than Cave's recent work with his side project Grinderman or The Bad Seeds. It's built on guitar loops from Warren Ellis rather than the guitar work of Mick Harvey, who left The Bad Seeds in 2008, ending a 30-year musical partnership with Cave.
The shift makes Cave's lyrics and deadpan, storyteller delivery even more the focus. He sounds dangerous on "We Real Cool," with the rumbling guitar loop adding to the song's menacing feel. "We No Who U R," the album's first single, combines trip-hop rhythms with poetry about trees.
"Push the Sky Away" definitely sounds like a new musical chapter for Cave and The Bad Seeds, which, in turn, spawned a new way for him to tell his stories.
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
"Push the Sky Away"
BOTTOM LINE Dark-minded rock, even darker poetry