A Nick Cave Survey With Plenty of Bells but No Whistles
Published: December 27, 2004
Nick Cave has an inscrutable, almost abstract way of thinking that makes it almost impossible to understand in a conventional sense. This is especially true on the subject of the music he will make between now and 2013. For many people – I know because I once was one of them – who are familiar with his musical tastes and styles, he will be a very familiar artist.
Here, then, is a brief description of the Nick Cave experience:
After the band’s first album and following an absence of a few years – I have to admit that I am not sure what happened – Nick is back. We’ve seen Nick perform live a few times since returning to the performing arts in September. He made a point of showing up at a gig in Los Angeles last month in front of his new fans, who, to be fair, were a different audience from the ones he had performed to previously.
That is enough. Now.
I was surprised by the first album in a while to find him with an extremely clean, crisp, clear voice. I expected songs like “I’m Lost,” a song that can be summed up by the title, to have a little bit of an edge to them. Instead they are pure, unadulterated, almost monotonous, soul-less – and it took me a long time to figure out why. There is great beauty in the song, but it is not in the vocals.
I’ve heard one or two of his other songs – “St. Jude,” “The Rope,” “Dirty Laundry” – but the song “The Killing Moon” is the one that jumps out loud and clear to me. The beauty of it is that its lyrics are so simple and direct, with a kind of honesty that makes you think: “That’s how it feels, like I just woke up from a nightmare, on the killing of my own moon.”
This is what makes him a distinctive songwriter – he’s not afraid to say what