Review: Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree, the latest album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, comes very much loaded with context, so much so that, in this day and age, it’s hard to listen to it without knowing anything about the circumstances in which it was created. The songs were recorded in the aftermath of the death of Nick’s fifteen-year-old son Arthur, from falling off a cliff; instantly you connect the unsettling nature of this album – its constant drone, especially in its opening half, but also in its more hopeful end; the rawness in the recordings, the little details that suggest an intentionally unpolished album – to whatever it is he’s trying to do to cope with the loss. But while that’s understandable, it’s quite a robotic, cold thing to do. I wouldn’t call it an album about death, but there’s a profound shift in Nick’s approach here: it’s a record spent mostly within his thoughts, less on stories and more on ruminations. It’s just that, well, we know of the story. Regardless of that, though, the unsettling nature of Skeleton Tree makes this an interesting, profound listen. [NB]4/5

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