'Ghosteen' by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, album review



Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

The surprise album drop isn’t something that isn’t too uncommon now. It’s a trend regulated to the upper echelon of performers at this point, because really, if it was an unknown would anyone care. Nowadays, certain artists have the need to reach out to their audiences in a more direct manner than they would’ve years before. Take, for example, Nick Cave. An enigmatic artist, to say the least, but over the last year he has opened up to his fan base. Allowing them to create a dialogue with him thorough his Red Hand Files website, where he opened up the floor to questions from fans. Ask me anything. This turned into the latest tour Cave did. Doing basically Q and A’s around the world and now he has dropped the latest release from him and his Bad Seeds, Ghosteen, and it’s his most wondrously beautiful work in years.

To characterize the work of such a prolific and interesting artist is a tall order. This is effectively the bands 18th studio album and it may be its most straightforward melancholic and beautiful. There’s a cinematic scope to the proceedings here. Mostly done with Cave’s rich baritone and piano, amplified by ethereal tape loops and synths. Right off the top with “Spinning Song” Cave sets a tone. It feels so personal that it’s almost indecipherable unless you are him but his way of translating his own feelings reverberates throughout the listen. It’s such a densely emotional time that it almost does a disservice to the album by trying to capture it in words. It’s effectively a double album, just over an hour long, of ripped wide open, heart on your sleeve meditations that exist so clearly in the head of its creator that we are all just witnesses to its delicate wonders.

Cave has split the album up into two separate parts. The first eight being “The Children” and the last two being “The Parents”. You can read so much of what went into this as a response to the death of Cave’s son in 2015, but as with all great art, the person taking it all in can form a hypothesis of their own. There’s nothing here that spells it all out for you and it probably shouldn’t. It’s an album that takes the listener on a journey. One that will maybe become clearer with time but one that demands attention and care and one that will be infinitely rewarding with every revisit and one that showcases Nick Cave as one of the premier artists working in the musical medium today. It’s an intriguing, somewhat beguiling listen and, surprise or not, an infinitely beautiful, heartbreaking album that only a master can create.

review by Adam Fink

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Part One
1 Spinning Song
2 Bright Horses
3 Waiting for You
4 Night Raid
5 Sun Forest
6 Galleon Ship
7 Ghosteen Speaks
8 Leviathan

Part Two
1 Ghosteen
2 Fireflies
3 Hollywood


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