Different albums serve different purposes. Some are meant to soundtrack road trips or barbecues or parties. Others require complete submersion: headphones, darkness, consideration. The captivating “Push the Sky Away,” the first release from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds in five years, out Tuesday, definitely falls into that category.
And given how much watery imagery surges through the album, submerging feels like the proper course of action.
Alluring, just-beyond-reach “Mermaids” sun themselves on rocks before slipping back into the drink. A secret key opens the door to a tunnel that leads to the sea on the tremulous, insistent “Wide Lovely Eyes.” Young boys ogle preening girls at “Water’s Edge,” a great glory of a song that feels both vast and intimate, beguiling and predatory, sexy and dangerous.
Elsewhere, the instrumentation takes on a certain liquidity as a languid piano plinks over hitching rhythms on “We No Who U R” and guitar licks cascade on “Jubilee Street.”
Along the way, Cave ruminaties on love, sex, romance, and mortality. Sometimes his baritone carries lyrics that are blunt and tart, and others opaque and blurry, but never lacking bite.
ESSENTIAL “Water’s Edge”
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds perform at the Orpheum on March 24.