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updated: 2/21/2013 6:05 PM

Nick Cave mellows on new Bad Seeds album

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Associated Press

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "Push the Sky Away" (Bad Seed Ltd)
After the furious "Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!" and a pair of swaggering records from primal side project Grinderman, fans of Nick Cave may have expected another slab of guitar distortion and sex and death from the first Bad Seeds album in five years. Instead, "Push the Sky Away" delivers spare strings and electronic loops -- and sex and death.

The band's 15th album in nearly three decades finds Cave introspective again, reminiscent of 1997's brooding "The Boatman's Call." This cohesive collection is built around the six-plus minute "Jubilee Street," a meditation on pain and obsession featuring a beauty with a little black book, "and my name was written on every page."

Hannah Montana gets a shout out, along with Robert Johnson and Lucifer himself, in the haunting god particle dirge "Higgs Boson Blues."

"Push the Sky Away" is yet another gem in a long string of fiercely literate offerings from the poet laureate of post-punk.

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