Over the last decade or so, idiosyncratic Australian musician Nick Cave has poured himself into screenwriting, authoring grim, fatalistic films like Lawless and The Proposition.
Upon hearing Cave and the Bad Seeds' 15th studio album, Push the Sky Away, his divergent artistic pursuits unite with a vengeance.
These are songs rich with mood, heavy with shadow; they flicker out of the speakers like light across a movie screen. (Die-hard Cave fans could reasonably make the argument that his music, long noted for its command of atmosphere, inspired the foray into cinema, and not the other way around -- and they'd make a valid point.)
Following 2008's Dig Lazarus Dig!!!, the Nick Launay-produced Push the Sky Away immediately establishes its brooding, cinematic tone with the ominous opener We No Who U R, with its chorus intoning, "We know who you are/And we know where you live/And we know there's no need to forgive."
Cave's intoxicating baritone is in fine, seductive form throughout these 10 tracks, moving easily from (relatively) tender ballads like Wide Lovely Eyes and Mermaids to throbbing, menacing cuts like We Real Cool and humid slow-burns like the slyly high-minded Higgs Boson Blues.
The record does its business briskly -- the run time is a tight 42 minutes -- and leaves a memorable impression in its wake. Push the Sky Away will dazzle long-time Cave aficionados, just as it will likely hook those experiencing their first taste of Cave the screenwriter's other day job.