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Dark Love

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - No More Shall We Part
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 6, 2001

Nick Cave

By Tony Bonyata

Leave it to Nick Cave to find a dark side to love. From the somber tone on the opening track of his eleventh solo album, No More Shall We Part, it seems like a lifetime since his apocalyptic days in his former post-punk band The Birthday Party. As the album begins to unfold further it also becomes apparent that a new found maturity (one that began to surface on his 1997 album The Boatman's Call) has taken permanent residency in his music.
Cave has traded in his penchant for sadistic tall tales, Delta blues mythology and Old Testament fire and brimstone for a collection of numbers that consist mostly of love songs. But these aren't your everyday love songs about holding hands and stealing a first kiss. These are short stories about the sometimes darker side of love told by one of rock music's greatest writers - a side filled with remorse, doubt and longing.
The music throughout, often somber and simplistic, becomes more engaging with each listening. A humble yet hypnotic piano-line gentle lilts behind Cave's stylistic and sexually charged croon on "As I Sat Sadly By Her Side." He carries a similar vocal style into the title track, which is both grand and barren, as if he was pleading in vain to the heavens from the foot of a mountain. The frail number "Love Letter," could very well be his first honest love song, in the truest meaning of the term, while he goes on to paint a bleak portrait of his emptiness over lost love on "Darker With The Day."
Proving that he hasn't lost his sense of humor, however, Cave mocks a town of conservative religious fundamentalists living in denial on "God Is In The House," as he sings, "Moral sneaks in the White House. Computer geeks in the schoolhouse. Drug freaks in the crackhouse - we don't have that stuff here."
Although the talents of his band, The Bad Seeds, are roped off from cutting loose completely, they slowly build to a fevered crescendo as their leader bellows like an impassioned street preacher on "Oh My Lord," while also managing to build a rock-solid foundation for the powerful chorus on "Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow."
He may have turned to love, but thankfully Nick Cave's black heart will never turn totally sentimental on us.

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