Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
No More Shall We Part (Reprise)
by Lex Marburger
Well, it took him long enough, but Nick Cave finally cheered up. He’s married, he has a kid, he’s a cult favorite the world over, known as the guy who spills his guts into everything he does, and he’s been in Wim Wender’s masterpiece, Wings of Desire. So, what does he have to tell us, on this, his 13th album with The Bad Seeds? Well, the title, No More Shall We Part, is a good indication. He’s in love. He’s happy. But he can’t just lead us in without telling us how he got there, or giving us some sense of the man he once was. So, the opening track, “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side,” gives us the lowdown: Nick was moping about one day, and his wife said, essentially, “Hey! Get over it already!” His reply was something to the effect of “Oh, yeah. Whoops.” Then follows 11 tracks of love. Pure love. Not love like on Let Love In, a love of horror and longing, or the love of The Boatman’s Call, a love of tragedy and sorrow, but a testament to true love. OK, it’s not that saccharine, he’s still addicted to mournful lyrics and lamenting turns of phrase, but overall there’s the smell of true love.
And the music follows suit. Following the pattern of The Boatman’s Call, Nicky turns to soft music, piano, strings, brushes on the drums… you get the idea. A torch singer gone bad, demon turned lounge singer. Now, I’m not opposed to soft music, or romantic sounds, but I have to say that marriage has somewhat emasculated our Cave-man. I’m still a fan of his work with The Birthday Party, which was a screaming sonic assault on the senses (and sensibilities) of the ’80s. Yeah, yeah, that was 20 years ago. Shut up. Even as recently as 1996, he was kicking ass with “The Curse of Millhaven” and the like. Well, I will give him credit for “Oh My Lord,” which features the incendiary violin work of Warren Ellis (of Dirty Three). It’s a pretty powerful song, all things considered, with a churning groove that plows relentlessly, like an avalanche, building momentum as it goes, Ellis’ violin turning tumult into beauty and vice versa.
But that reminds me… He’s really into God lately, have you noticed? On No More…, he has at least four songs written directly about or to God, and on the other tracks, he mentions the Big Guy at least once a song. And this ain’t no “Big Jesus Trash Can” either. He speaks of Him reverently, with conviction and humility. I’m like, what the fuck? He started doing this on Boatman‘s… possibly even earlier. So now the ex-drunk, ex-junkie, ex-emotional wasteland has found God? Too much, man… Ah well, we can’t be young forever.
But getting back to the music, he could’ve at least put Blixa “Einstürzende Neubauten” Bargeld to better use. Lollipop‘s last review of The Seeds chided that we could play a game of “Where’s Blixa?” with The Boatman’s Call, and No More… is no different. What’s the use of employing a noise craftsman if you’re not gonna use him? But I’m getting picky. The majority of the heroes of my youth are dead, retired, or suck. Nick Cave has endured, survived, and given us hope of a happy ending. I can deal with that.