Cave is the king of passionate, darkly beautiful pop songs and Nocturama's ten...
Dan Tallis 2003-02-07
Nocturama, Nick Cave's twelfth studio album with the Bad Seeds, is a far cry from 2001's No More Shall We Part, but is just as impressive. Cave is the king of passionate, darkly beautiful pop songs and Nocturama's ten mesmerizing tracks maintain his position on the throne. There's more emotion in each word that Cave sings than can be found in a whole pack of pop idols.
The album's first track, "Wonderful Life", builds layer by layer, winding around a fluid bassline. The song centers around the chorus "It's a wonderful life, if you can find it". Cave's deep, sad voice seems skeptical that anyone but the lucky few can achieve anything near happiness. The musicians create a hauntingly beautiful sound which perfectly accompanies Caves lamenting vocals.
From the Birthday Party's demise in the early eighties and The Bad Seeds rising from the ashes in 1983 Nick Cave and his band have toyed with an esoteric melodrama understood only by those who see beauty in sadness. Some 20 years later, Nocturama sees Cave come of age. Songs like, "Dead Man In My Bed", which can be seen as a blistering return to their thrashy rock 'n' roll days, with Cave as the preacher of fire and brimstone.
There are also songs that feature the familiar Bad Seeds themes of love and death but here the winning motif seems to be an uneasy acknowledgement of the presence of love. "Rock of Gibraltar" celebrates the bittersweet endurance of love against the odds but, typically, is still tainted by the possibility of betrayal.
He has the freedom and confidence for the epic final track "Babe, I'm On Fire" to contain 43 verses and to last for 15 emotionally charged minutes. Here, the incredibly talented Bad Seeds are all given a chance to run riot with their various instruments. Guitars, drums, violin and percussion all vie for attention while Cave's strained vocals struggle, but ultimately succeed, in keeping pace with his wild musicians. Simply a fantastic and enthralling end to a superb album.