Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree LP
Label: Bad Seed Ltd
Death and murder have long weighed heavily in Nick Cave's cautionary tales and allegorical anthems, but on the Skeleton Tree, such themes strike very close to home. In 2015, Cave's son Arthur died at the age of 15, falling off a cliff outside of Brighton, England. Cave and the Bad Seeds had yet to embark on the production of this album, though Cave had written much of the material that would get fleshed out in the studio when this tragic event happened. Knowing that he'd be confronted with questions about his son's death upon the release of the album, Cave and the band opted to film the making of the album under the directorial guidance of filmmaker Andrew Dominik. That film One More Time With Feeling was released at the same time the album to considerable critical acclaim. As for Skeleton Tree, the album is unsurprisingly a somber affair, laden with a grief that's weighty even for a Nick Cave outing. Cave's voice and piano are the central figures in this song cycle, curled into southern Gothic laments with his baritone stripped bare of all the bombast that he brought to The Birthday Party revealing considerable grief and sadness. Cave's vibrato on the title track seems to barely contain his tears, and the rumbling arrangement for "Anthrocene" sounds like a sustained earthquake as the emotional quicksand upon which Cave attempts to ground his song and by extension himself. Profound and heartbreaking.