Push the Sky Away

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Push the Sky Away
A man in a suit and a naked woman stand in a large empty room.
Studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Released 18 February 2013 (2013-02-18)
Recorded December 2011 (2011-12)–August 2012 (2012-08) at La Fabrique in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Genre Alternative rock
Length 42:40
Label Bad Seed Ltd
Producer Nick Launay
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds chronology
Live at the Royal Albert Hall
(2008)
Push the Sky Away
(2013)
Live from KCRW
(2013)
Singles from Push the Sky Away
  1. "We No Who U R"
    Released: 3 December 2012 (2012-12-03)
  2. "Jubilee Street"
    Released: 15 January 2013 (2013-01-15)
  3. "Mermaids"
    Released: 20 May 2013 (2013-05-20)

Push the Sky Away is the fifteenth studio album by the Australian alternative rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, released on 18 February 2013[1] on the band's own label Bad Seed Ltd.[2] Recorded at La Fabrique in southern France, it is the band's first album not to feature founding member Mick Harvey, who departed the band in January 2009,[3] and the first album to feature founding member Barry Adamson since Your Funeral... My Trial (1986).

Recording[edit]

Push the Sky Away was recorded at La Fabrique, a recording studio based in a 19th century mansion in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. It was produced by Nick Launay, who produced Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds three previous studio albums—Nocturama (2003), Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (2004) and Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008)— and Grinderman's two studio albums. Segments of the album's recording sessions were featured in the official trailer for Push the Sky Away, which was posted on YouTube upon the album's announcement.[4] The band entered the studio when Nick Cave had "unformed and pupal" ideas, and the band "[transformed] them into things of wonder."[5]

Composition[edit]

Describing Push the Sky Away in the album's press release, Nick Cave said "if I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children, then Push The Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren's loops are its tiny, trembling heart-beat."[6] The songs on the album were written over the course of twelve months and "took form in a modest notebook" kept by Cave. The notebook contained notes on the album's songs, which were composed from "Googling curiosities, being entranced by exotic Wikipedia entries 'whether they’re true or not'."[6] (The song We Real Cool also mentions Wikipedia by name.) According to Cave, the songs illustrate how the internet has influenced "significant events, momentary fads and mystically-tinged absurdities" and "question how we might recognise and assign weight to what's genuinely important."[6]

Packaging[edit]

The cover image shows Cave opening a window shutter to illuminate his naked wife, Susie Bick, and was shot by Dominique Issermann in the couple's own bedroom.[7]

Release[edit]

Push the Sky Away was announced for release on 27 November 2012. Released on 18 February 2013,[6] the album was made available on standard CD, LP, digital download, limited edition deluxe CD/DVD and a "Super Deluxe" box set.[6] The album's lead single, "We No Who U R", was released as a digital download on 3 December and its second single, "Jubilee Street", was released on 15 January 2013. Push the Sky Away sold 15,000 copies in its first week of release in the United States.[8]

Tour[edit]

Prior to the album's announcement, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds disclosed plans to perform at Humphrey's Concerts By the Sea in San Diego, California 16 April 2013.[9] The announcement sparked rumours that the band would also perform at the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival,[9][10] which was later confirmed. On 3 December 2012, the band announced an Australian and North American tour accompanying Push the Sky Away's release. The six-date Australian leg of the tour commenced on 26 February 2013 in Sydney and concluded on 8 March in Brisbane,[11] and the twelve-date North American leg commenced on 14 March in Dallas, Texas and concluded on 3 April in Denver, Colorado.[12] Several dates at major European festivals were later announced, including performances at Primavera Sound in Spain,[13] NorthSide Festival in Denmark,[14] and Greenville Music Festival in Germany.[15]

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performed a one-off debut of Push the Sky Away in its entirety at Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, California on 21 February 2013. The performance was streamed live on YouTube and made available for stream for an additional 24 hours.[16]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 81/100[17]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[18]
The A.V. Club B-[19]
Chicago Tribune 3/4 stars[20]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[21]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[22]
NME 9/10[3]
Pitchfork 8.0/10.0[23]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[24]
Slant 4.5/5 stars[25]
USA Today 3.5/4 stars[26]

Push the Sky Away was acclaimed by music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 81, based on 46 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."[17] Allmusic rated Push the Sky Away three and a half out of five stars and reviewer Thom Jurek said the "songs contain simple melodies and arrangements that offer the appearance of vulnerability and tenderness [but] it is inside this framework that they eventually reveal their sharp fangs and malcontent."[18] Writing for The A.V. Club, Jason Heller described the album as "oppressively hollow minimalism is both its biggest drawback and its greatest strength", noted the lack of "chemistry" in Mick Harvey's absence, and gave it a B- grade.[19] BBC Music writer James Skinner referred to the album as "certainly a far stranger, subtler record than that last Bad Seeds outing" and "an LP as weighty, compelling and brilliant as The Bad Seeds have ever produced."[27] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune called Push the Sky Away "an album without any shocking turns" but said "that 'tiny, trembling heart beat,' as Cave calls it, starts to sound louder with each listen" in his three out of four star review.[20] In his review for The Guardian, Dave Simpson awarded the album four out of five stars, described it as "funeral-paced songs and stripped-down music that calls to mind Leonard Cohen fronting James Blake minimalism" and drew comparisons between the album and The Boatman's Call (1997).[21]

Los Angeles Times' reviewer Randall Roberts said Push the Sky Away "is not a work to be appreciated casually. Cave delves into a meandering, meditative world that rarely offers the kind of hooks or tethers that dictate toe-tapping singalongs" in his three out of four star review.[22] Writing for the NME, Jenny Stevens described the album as a "majestic and desolate masterpiece" and noted that the band "merges the experimentation and freedom of their side projects with Cave's most tender songcraft", rating the album nine out of ten.[3] Pitchfork Media rated Push the Sky Away eight out of ten and reviewer Stuart Berman praised its "foggy reveries built upon ominously rumbling bass lines, twitchy rhythmic tics, and hushed-voice intimations", adding "it may not erupt with same force as the Bad Seeds' stormiest gestures, but the underlying menace fuelling it remains."[23]

In his three star review for Rolling Stone, Joe Gross said Push the Sky Away "is full of tiny sounds—plinking guitars, pulsing bass [and] lazy subtle drums."[24] Writing for Slant Magazine, Mark Collett stated: "subtle, sprawling, and often achingly beautiful, Push the Sky Away is a late-career masterpiece from an antipodean force of nature" and summarised that it was "an album of thrilling darkness pierced by moments of brilliant light."[25] USA Today' reviewer Edna Gunderson wrote that the release "may be more spare, somber and haunting than recent collections, but Cave's dark menace, devilish wit and yarn-spinning voodoo compensate for a lack of guitar bluster."[26]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Nick Cave, all music composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis unless otherwise noted.

No. Title Music Length
1. "We No Who U R"     4:04
2. "Wide Lovely Eyes"     3:40
3. "Water's Edge"   Cave, Ellis, Thomas Wydler 3:49
4. "Jubilee Street"     6:35
5. "Mermaids"     3:49
6. "We Real Cool"     4:18
7. "Finishing Jubilee Street"   Cave, Ellis, Wydler 4:28
8. "Higgs Boson Blues"     7:50
9. "Push the Sky Away"     4:07
Total length:
42:40
iTunes[28] bonus material
No. Title Length
10. "The Making of Push the Sky Away" (video track) 6:40
Total length:
49:20
Deluxe limited edition[29] bonus 7"
No. Title Music Length
1. "Needle Boy"     4:04
2. "Lightning Bolts"   Cave, Ellis, Wydler 3:42
Total length:
7:46
Deluxe limited edition[30] bonus DVD
No. Title Music Length
1. "Needle Boy" (video track)   4:04
2. "Lightning Bolts" (video track) Cave, Ellis, Wydler 3:42
Total length:
7:46

Personnel[edit]

All personnel credits adapted from Push the Sky Away's liner notes.[31]

Chart positions[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]