No More Shall We Part

Doom-and-gloom crooner Nick Cave relies on three main themes: "love, God, death and variations of these." This 11th studio album was recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios with a Bad Seeds lineup bolstered by the melancholic violin of Warren Ellis (Dirty Three) and the addition of backing vocals from folksingers Anna and Kate McGarrigle. This is a moody album of long-winding, fable-esque songs punctuated throughout by hauntingly sparse piano ballads. Cave’s bitter baritone voice sounds more restrained, no longer wildly storming through songs like King Lear on Qualudes. My favorites were the slow numbers: the beautiful title track’s poetic musings on the fragililty of love (Cave guest-taught classes on the love song at Columbia), the sarcasm of "God is in the House" (a tale of a religious town "quiet as a mouse"), and the humor of "Oh My Lord," which finds Cave in a hairdresser’s shop watching a man in plastic antlers moon him outside the window. The songs sound Leonard Cohen influenced, and although fans have complained about the album’s being overly mannered, the stylistic diversity (ie. folk touches and string arrangements) proves Cave is still challenging himself. There are still reflective nuggets of vintage Cave—the dark rider seeking redemption through love and the questioning of faith.