Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Murder Ballads

The irony in this newest composition by Nick Cave is that it is perhaps his most starkly frightening, yet at the same time his most accessible, receiving rave reviews from scores of critics. Of course, combined with the expert talent of the Bad Seeds, as well as guest vocalists P. J. Harvey, Shane MacGowan, Anita Lane (and even Kylie Minogue!), this opus materializes as a profoundly unsettling, although poignant masterpiece. The entire album is a collection of murderous episodes; it is an homage to murder and death, since, well, "All God's children, they all gotta die." In "Song of Joy", there are quotes from Milton's Paradise Lost, perhaps to enhance the "paradise lost" as a man comes home to find his wife, Joy, and three daughters, stabbed and stuffed in sleeping bags. Murder is depicted in varied, romanticized ways. In "Where the Wild Roses Grow", the murderer kills his lover with a rock, then kisses her goodbye, saying, "All beauty must die," then places a rose between her teeth. A mass killer in "O'Malley's Bar" reminisces that, "When I shot him, I was so handsome." These gruesome tales are shrouded in sweetly palatable, lush and melodic tunes, with occasional sounds to heighten the melodrama, such as a weeping woman, screams and gunshots. By the end though, an optimistic finale of Bob Dylan's "Death Is Not The End", with each guest artist participating, ties the entire set of morbid ballads into a complete, nearly flawless package. Highly recommended for those who crave cold, hard-core drama.

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