A new album from Nick Cave is always an event, be it in the form of depraved rock outfit Grinderman, a soundtrack collaboration with Warren Ellis, or especially with his stellar band the Bad Seeds, who are set to release their 15th studio LP Push the Sky Away next week. We’ve already heard/seen videos for the ominous first single ‘We No Who U R‘ and lecherous new single ‘Jubilee Street‘, and now you can stream the Nick Launay-produced album in its entirey. Following two unhinged, psych-rock-influenced outings with Grinderman (2007’s Grinderman and 2010’s Grinderman 2), as well as the Bad Seeds’ similarly rough 2008 effort Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! in-between, it comes as something of a relief to find Cave and his cohorts — namely violinist/multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis (and now bandleader, following Mick Harvey’s 2009 departure), bassist Martyn P. Casey, keyboardist Conway Savage, and percussionists Thomas Wydler and Jim Sclavunos — slowing things down for a much more intimate collection of songs this time out. That’s not to say that this is a return to the murder ballads of old, or even the lavish balladry of his mid-2000s output, but rather something new again: a 43-minute journey of seething, slow-burning and restrained ballads that continue Cave’s preoccupation with dirty old man innuendoes and fantasies. Cave’s knack for evocative phrases remains intact, but he pushes his ever-fascinating and mysterious musings in surprising new directions here, including references to WikiPedia and current events (Miley Cyrus; ‘Higgs Boson Blues’) and delving into humourous meta territory on ‘Finishing Jubilee Street’. Ellis also expands the group’s sonic textures, adding loops and electronic touches to the gorgeous instrumentation. It’s another magnificent album from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds that not only feels stately and masterly, but more importantly finds these middle-aged men once again willing to change things up while most of their peers have grown complacent, and you have to love them for it. Now if only they would bring their upcoming tour to New Zealand…

Push the Sky Away is out February 18. Stream it below (via NPR).


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