It's not a Bad Seeds album. It is a Nick Cave album, but if you listened to it next to anything from the the Sexual Black Bellied Priest era of Tender Prey/The Good Son/Murder Ballads etc, you wouldn't say it is a Nick Cave album. It's what you get when you take Cave's last few years of poems and add Warren Ellis.
Push the Sky Away is the first Bad Seeds album without long (long) time bass player and multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey. It represents a major shift in the sound and attitude of the band's previous work, possibly due to the difference in writing style - written in two weeks at Studios La Fabrique, essentially a mansion converted to a recording studio in southern France.
The songs are built from a skeleton of lyrics - lyrics came first for this one, a rare occurrence on previous albums - fleshed out with loops created by bearded multi-multi instrumentalist Warren Ellis. Then come the Bad Seeds, sprinkled on top.
As a Nick Cave fan I love his Evil Moustached Warlord of Sex persona, and all the songs fans know and some they don't, but this is my favourite Bad Seeds album by far. For one the production is seamless - punk child Nick Launay returns to a Cave album for the fifth time on this record - but the songs are beautiful. They still hold the untamed kind of strange anger and sadness you can feel even as recently as Dig, Lazarus, Dig, but it bubbles just beneath the surface of the whole album, occasionally appearing in a bass line like in We Real Cool, or in the slow avalanche of Higgs Boson Blues. They still have Cave's sharp lyrical poetry, this time bent on popular culture and the state of technology.
But Push the Sky Away is so much more accessible, pretty sounding even, imperfect and untrue to the previous direction of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds that it is my favourite. It takes guts to change your style thirty years into a successful framework, but it can pay off. It did.