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Ghosteen by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Album Review

I apologise to no-one for my opinion that Nick Cave is a creative genius, and while often perceived as a depressing listen, I have found the opposite to be true. Take his last album, "Skeleton Tree". 7 tracks of bleakness, followed with a beautifully uplifting finale of a title track that lingers long in the memory.

Three years after that comes a new album, a double no less and I am firmly of the belief that there are very few double albums that wouldn't be improved by being cut to a single disc. Let us see if this can prove to be one of the few exceptions.


After my first listen I thought that this was "Skeleton Tree" part two, with most of the songs being extremely sparse in their arrangements with almost spoken lyrics. "Waiting For You" stands apart the most traditional Nick Cave style song. 

The whole album is almost jazz-like, with a sci-fi soundtrack ambience that is very easy to relax into. "Abattoir Blues" this is not. 

My initial impressions were not positive, but upon every listen I come to appreciate it more. This is most definitely not an album for everyone, though the hardcore will no doubt join me in appreciating it.


Take "Sun Forest" as an example. After an extremely ponderous start, the chord progression begins to reveal itself, and then it surges to upward in the chorus. This is all relative however, don't be expecting "There She Goes My Beautiful World"!

The title track is a 12 minute epic takes 4 minutes to get going before ebbing and flowing. Album closer, "Hollywood" is a huge 14 minutes and yet despite this I find it interesting that my reaction to this album, which on the surface is very similar to Wilco's "Ode To Joy", (in that it is a low key, initially underwhelming album from a much loved artist, full review of that here), is different to my final thoughts on Tweedy and Co. 
Perhaps it is that Nick Cave speaks to me on a much deeper and emotional level than Wilco do, or indeed ever have for a long time. Whatever the the reason, I have come to love this album, despite the flaws, yet I cannot unconditionally recommend it to others.
It is a real mood piece, that will benefit from the right listening environment and time. A Marmite album I think, and yes it could benefit from being shorter, ("Fireflies" could be cut with no real loss). Much like many of the "Skeleton Tree" songs I feel live performance will enhance the impact and emotional journey the listener is taken on, particularly from the backing vocals and synth swells.

An understated, atmospheric journey, which I continue to enjoy far more than I thought would after that initial first listen, albeit one not all will wish to take.


"I love my baby and my baby loves me....."

Comments

  1. Great review as usual from Steven - atmospheric is the word that springs to mind about the tracks listened to and many more plays would be needed to reveal the essence of this album.

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