Nick Cave Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (& The Bad Seeds)

[Anti-; 2004]

Rating: 5/5

Styles: singer-songwriter, post-punk
Others: Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Magazine, David Byrne, Dirty Three

When I picked up a copy of Nick Cave's video collection I was struck by the video for "Are You the One (That I've Been Waiting For.)" No, it wasn't because it's one of my all-time favorite Cave tracks (though it is), but rather that now-former Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld leans against a wall for most of the video holding a guitar, never visibly playing it. Like many a Neubauten fan, I began to wonder just what in the hell Blixa was actually doing in the Bad Seeds after 1996's raucous Murder Ballads. Nonetheless, when I found out he had departed the band after Cave's only good but not great album, Nocturama, there was a certain amount of fear as to where the collective would be heading.

Judging from the new album, it almost seems as if Blixa was acting as a bit of insurance, just in case anyone was checking The Bad Seed's credentials for "edgy." With him gone, Cave and the band are acting like they have something to prove again, and they certainly succeed. Though there are two albums, a "harder" one (Abattoir Blues) and a "softer" one (The Lyre of Orpheus), this distinction belies the fact that there is a new bounce in Cave's step on the lighter numbers, such as "Breathless" and "Supernaturally." Additionally, there are also some classic, brooding Cave cuts, "Easy Money" and "Hiding All Away," as well as pop rock that hits all the right marks, "Nature Boy" and "Cannibal's Hymn." But perhaps the biggest treat comes with the titular "The Lyre of Orpheus." Sounding a bit like "Saint Huck" filtered through the last seven or so years of Cave's career, he cuts loose on vocals, sounding more sinister than anything since "Stagger Lee."

As a word of warning, though, this brilliant, but lengthy double album may not be the best beginner's guide to Nick Cave. However, for anyone who is a fan of the duration of his career, this album rewards the listener with a bit of the best of everything he has to offer, and importantly affirms that Cave and The Bad Seeds are still at the top of their game.

1. Get Ready for Love
2. Cannibal's Hymn
3. Hiding All Away
4. Messiah Ward
5. There She Goes, My Beautiful World
6. Nature Boy
7. Abatoir Blues
8. Let the Bells Ring
9. Fable of the Brown Ape
10. CD-ROM Track
11. The Lyre of Orpheus
12. Breathless
13. Babe, You Turn Me On
14. Easy Money
15. Supernaturally
16. Spell
17. Carry Me
18. O Children. Cave
19. CD-ROM Track

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