Nick Cave, one of Goth’s favorite sons, powers back onto the scene with a stunning double album set Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus.
Cave, playing the tortured/sensual poet lover, picks up where The Doors’ Jim Morrison left off – chanting, bellowing and at times crooning out poetic musings on such varied topics as religion, nature and love. Unlike Morrison though, Cave has blown past hippy ramblings to tackle serious social issues as well.
The first album, Abattoir Blues throbs with the desperation of a pre-Y2K preacher. In this nine song set, the end of the world is near and while Cave calls “every boy and girl” around the world to praise the heavens above, no one is guaranteed a “get out of hell free” card.
Track “Hiding All Away” warns that there’s “a war coming from above” and the theme continues, but unlike Sunday morning scammers such as Jim Baker and the like, Cave convinces with lyrics that paint a picture of an aching mother earth facing collapsing under the weight of a greedy avarice society.
As Cave puts it in title track, “Abattoir Blues” – “I went to bed last night and my moral code got jammed/I woke up with a Frappucino in my hand” and, while he seems helpless to stop the destruction around him, you get the feeling that Cave would probably be the last man on deck – a good citizen going down with his defeated planet.
Second album finds Cave and his fellow Bad Seeds in a gentler, yet still captivating, mode. After the first album’s ruminations on doom and gloom, “The Lyre of Orpheus” casts Cave as a fawning lover.
Track “Breathless” offers up a sighing salute to the tender side of romance, complete with a lilting flute while “Babe, You Turn Me On” is a full-out ode to the passionate, sensual side of amour. The fire of seduction then gives way to religious fervor as the album crescendos to a close with hypnotic chanting and wailing on the gospel-flavored hymn “O Children”.
With two brilliant, yet decidedly different albums, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds prove the concept album not only lives, but thrives and writhes with newfound passion and intensity.