As cryptic and stream of consciousness as Push The Sky Away is in passing, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds‘ 15th record is one of the most accessibly intimate 2013 has birthed. Typical Cave story arch: the macabre poet saturates himself in a genre or region or idea and assembles the Seeds to impregnate it with sound. But there’s something more here. Rife with beatnik humor, wonder and meditative, string-lulled blues, Cave started with a legit notebook and “Googling curiosities,” wrestling with increasing ways in which digital life is restructuring analogue thought. Quantum physics, lovers’ cautionaries, Hannah Montana, Robert Johnson, no Wikipedia page is left unclicked. In the process, The Bad Seeds turn into Hans Zimmer and soundtrack an opus that could be called The Dark Hipster, in the original sense of the Kerouac crew subculture, Cave the protagonist, pushing the sky away to save us all from ruining the romantic limitlessness of its boundaries. So go five of its best lyrics that do so.

Jubilee Street‘ 

Woven around a tale of a doomed prostitute, this blooming black lotus flower of a single gets orgasmic in its chasing of redemption from self-deprecation. “I am beyond recriminations,” howls its demonic main character in full call-girl conquest, strings swirling, riffs getting grittier, choir hovering – “I am transforming. I am vibrating,” he continues, likening himself to an “embryo eating dark oxygen.” Beautiful, dark perfection: [LISTEN]

I am alone now. I am beyond recriminations
Curtains are shut. Furniture is gone
I am transforming. I am vibrating
I am an embryo eating dark oxygen
I am glowing. I am flying. Look at me now

Push the Sky Away‘ 

One of a few quiet moments on the record that would normally see Cave tinker out some off-kilter melodies on a piano, a hypnotizing single, wavering synth flame guides listeners out of self-doubt and darkness as Cave seethes with altruistic mantras necessary to take back individualistic romanticism from the instant intranets. Opposite The Stones‘ hip-strut that rock and roll is more than rock and roll, Cave comes in like a priest with a sermon: [LISTEN]

And some people say that it is just rock and roll
Oh but it gets right down to your soul
You’ve gotta just keep on pushing
Keep on pushing the sky away

Higgs Boson Blues‘ 

The record’s eight-minute epicenter stretches out around a contentious physics discovery last year – “the God particle” – that some are saying will be impossible to trump, ergo, putting a stop to questions we can ask of the universe. Our brains would explode trying to wrap a fitting verse around such a thing. Cave turns into Allen Ginsberg and works Hannah Montana, Robert Johnson and sweet alliteration bursts into a beatnik tapestry that just keeps on giving: [LISTEN]

Making the hot cots in the flophouse bleed
While the cleaning ladies sob into their mops
And a bell hop hops and bops
A shot rings out to a spiritual groove
Everybody bleeding to the Higgs Boson Blues

Water’s Edge

Palpitating about a filthy bass line, Cave gets his Tom Waits on, telling cautionary tales to young lovers destined to “grow old and cold.” A spattering drum fill lures Cave along as he spins biblical metaphors around girls’ open legs, reaches the end of the song, catches up with the string section, lowers hood and assures that despite its ache, “It’s the thrill of love:” [LISTEN]

With a bible of tricks they do with their legs
The girls reach for the speech to be heard
To be heard the local boys teem down the mound
And seize the girls from the Capital
Who shriek at the edge of the water
Shriek to speak, to reach for the speech and be heard

Wide Lovely Eyes

Opposite the black strokes on the rest of the record, Cave finds a sunbeam, that save for its “goodbye” ending, has to be one of his sweetest sentiments. A Boss-y, quiet street hummer with a ticking guitar riff, swirling backup chorals and a shaker to keep company with a lucid tale about two lovers hitting carnivals and pebble beaches. Shoelaces get untied, butterfly similes abound for “wide lovely eyes:” [LISTEN]

Through the tunnel and down to the sea
And on the pebble beach your laces you untie
And arrange your shoes side-by-side
You wave and wive with wide lovely eyes