Nick Cave - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
Russell Degnan

In terms of Australian song-writing, very few come even close to Nick Cave. The emotional depth of his dark, sad, even violent songs is just awesome. His creation of enveloping moods and his complexity rivals classical composers like Tchaikovsky or Beethoven; pop artists can only dream. But what to make of the double album, Abbatoir Blues and The Lyre of Orpheus? The white cover with pictures of flowers on it is a bit of a giveaway that - for the most part - this is a really fresh, gorgeous album. The complex melodies, and time structures are there, but whatever was driving Cave's early work has dissipated with marriage and kids.

And I love it. To do this review I've had it on half the afternoon and I'll leave it on for longer still, because there is barely a bad song. More impressively still, unlike other artists of his vintage, he hasn't drifted into a sameness of structure and style. If anything, this is a new direction. The use of the London Community Gospel Choir on several songs, and a lack of vocal intensity from Cave makes it something completely different. Worth getting.

Track Highlights
Nature Boy - An upbeat pop song is not typical of either Nick Cave or the rest or the album but he does it well.
Let the Bells Ring - The best combination of the upbeat style with the typical depths of his musical skill.
The Lyre of Orpheus - A bizarre little half talking/half singing start leads into a great deep bass, and a great story.
Breathless - The theme tune for a sunny day and a nice lie-down on a grassy hill.
Spell - A more appropriately titled song has never existed. Close your eyes and let it do its work.

Finer Things 20th March, 2005 22:33:44   [#]