Nick Cave's Push the Sky Away album makes critics swoon

Cave and the Bad Seeds ditch 'scuzzy' electric guitars for lush lullabies on album No. 15

LAST UPDATED AT 11:45 ON Fri 8 Feb 2013

NICK CAVE has written "some of his most beautiful melodies" for Push the Sky Away, the 15th album by the Australian-born musician and his veteran band the Bad Seeds.

The Guardian says the sound of the new LP is "a world away" from the "brutal" sound of Grinderman, Cave's electric guitar-focussed alternative rock side project. Instead it finds the 55-year-old in "stately mode".

The departure of the Bad Seeds' original guitarist Mick Harvey in 2009 may also help to explain the move away from the "scuzzy, garage rock" of the band's 14th album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, writes Darren Carle in a review for Scottish arts website The Skinny. The result is music that is "more sombre and lilting", closer in style to the 1997 album The Boatman's Call or 2003's Nocturama.

NPR's Stephen Thompson says the new album's nine songs are "paced like one magnificent 43-minute Nick Cave song". The work is "tense and mysterious at first, then increasingly full-blooded and lovely as the strings make their portentous entry" on a song called Water's Edge. Thompson also singles out the "hypnotic six-and-a-half minute dirge" Jubilee Street for particular praise.

Push the Sky Away offers a "beautifully complex and harrowing collection of menacing lullabies, rich in depth and bitterness carrying an indistinguishable sadness", writes Live Howe in a review for Epigram. "It may not be what you thought you wanted to hear, but it's definitely what you needed."

The Louder than War website agrees, with reviewer John Robb saying the collection of "21st century folk blues songs" succeeds "brilliantly".

Robb says it sounds as if Cave was determined to "go as far away" from the abrasive guitar sound of Grinderman as possible and still make a compelling album. He's hit the jackpot, says Robb, because each song on Push the Sky Away creates its own "ghostly atmosphere of spectral magic and dark clouded beauty" and it is a "lush world to get lost in".

Push the Sky Away is released on 18 February. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.