Dec 2016 19

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Skeleton TreeNick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Category: Experimental / Post-Punk
Album: Skeleton Tree
Stars: 5
Blurb: Nick Cave unleashes his musical project’s sixteenth album, which possesses a sense of continuity in tone and themes like the previous release, Push the Sky Away, but with a more poignant edge heavily inspired by real life tragedy.


Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Skeleton Tree explores the deepest and most obscure depths of emotions associated with the pain of loss and the hope for healing, and though work on it began before the death of Cave’s son Arthur in 2015, that heartbreaking tragedy became the central, driving theme that influenced much of the artistic direction of the album’s production. Cave paints for us an elaborate, living portrait of a human being immersed in profound longing, wandering in landscapes of grief and recollection. Skeleton Tree is the very soul of Nick Cave bare and exposed, and it surely took his very soul to give the album the beautiful, creative life that it has.

From a musical standpoint, Skeleton Tree is a masterpiece. It takes on various unique forms, some with more structure and others wild and erratic, while some cross the lines between melody and ambience, like the opening single “Jesus Alone,” with an orchestral armada of rich sounds and electronic tones flowing with strings and piano while Cave solemnly preaches about a dispiriting and dim reality, and “Anthrocene,” which comes and goes to the sounds of light, sizzling percussion and droning bass lines accompanied by a soft, ominous chorus and sporadic piano riffs. Cave reveals intense feelings while struggling with the inner darkness that came from his personal torment in songs like “Rings of Saturn,” where he puts his broken emotions into contrast with those of his wife’s in a stream-of-consciousness rant, and in “Girl In Amber,” he weaves a somber tale of anguishing disillusionment with that same energy. “Distant Sky” taps into a more soothing place in Cave’s mind and transports the listener into a world of sublime serenity, with Danish soprano Else Torp adding a nurturing sense of peace and respite with her voice and lyrics to a heart-lifting musical composition. He also shows us once again that he’s a master narrative songwriter in tracks like “Magneto,” where one can look into the wounded soul and the darkened thoughts of an individual who is emotionally and mentally afflicted and almost walk in those shoes. Another unique track is “I Need You,” which begins with dreamlike arpeggios before morphing into slow, drunken blues-rock, as if it were the soundtrack of loneliness and lament; the song structure is unpredictable in many ways too, sounding as if every instrument and the track itself were trying to keep pace with Cave. There’s this somber “Johnny Cash” dynamic in the music, but the format is unhinged and raw in its own way with its soft, gentle approach.

This album is a genuine gift and a triumphant testament of Cave’s spirit of endurance, something magnificently fantastic that was born out of real life personal suffering. It is a thoroughly intimate work of art that he chose to give a public voice, and the fact that he was still able to deal with the emotions associated with the loss of Arthur and still managed to push forward and create brilliant and inspiring music with the Bad Seeds is an example to follow for artists and audience alike; but more than that, it’s a story about the value of loss, life, and hope, and that is clearly reflected in the album’s wonderful production and artistic excellence… for that, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds deserve a massive debt of gratitude.
Track list:

  1. Jesus Alone
  2. Rings of Saturn
  3. Girl In Amber
  4. Magneto
  5. Anthrocene
  6. I Need You
  7. Distant Sky
  8. Skeleton Tree

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Will Sanchez (Will Superior)

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