Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - 'Ghosteen'

9/10

Over the last few years, Nick Cave has become evermore captivated by the more minimal approach to his writing. While his backing group of The Bad Seeds usually occupies at least half-a-dozen additional musicians, his previous full-length 'Skeleton Tree', written after the tragic death of his son, preferred to keep itself as lo-fi as possible as he regularly crooned over a simple piano medley for most of the release. Now as they return for their seventeenth LP, 'Ghosteen' sees them embrace this new aesthetic even further, splitting the record into two halves, which Cave himself has referred to as the children and parents of this collection.

While the bleak and solemn darkness that filled 'Skeleton Tree' has been thrown out on 'Ghosteen', the records' almost have this reflective feel to them. "Once where there was darkness, now there is light" as the old proverb goes, this album seems to project a more outward, optimistic and spiritual aesthetic than its predecessor, as the release's vibrant artwork might show. His voice no longer seems filled with pain and sorrow, but has a lilt of euphoria running through it, showing that while he still mourns for his lost son, he is beginning to feel that his life is slowly moving to the next chapter and is projected with some of the most hauntingly beautiful compositions of his career.

Put these two new albums together and it is clear that we have entered a new age of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. One that adopts a far more minimal and intimate approach to both writing and production, giving even greater power to his sublime voice throughout. 'Ghosteen' is quite possibly his best work to date, and given his tenure, that is an incredible feat.

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