Album : Let Love In by Mick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Review : Rolling Stone, 16 June 1994
Author : Rob O’Connor
Nick Cave used to be strictly postmodern, stringing together word associations in spasmodic whelps for his band the Birthday Party. Then he used to be sort of postmodern, weaving together folk tales based on American blues myths and a quick read of Faulkner’s twisted South. Not bad for a kid from Australia.
Then Cave cut The Good Son (1990), an album that curtailed his self-consciousness by stripping his sound down to bare essentials. It forced him to reassess his affectations and sing straight from the heart. In the process, he lost his signature sound – the wayward rhythms and screeching dissonance that created the dramatic soundstage needed to weave his longer tales. Henry’s Dream (1992) attempted to stretch out; however, the effort was reined in by David Briggs‘ measured production.
This time, Cave pulled out the stops. The Bad Seeds are back, mixing haunted house organ, creaky-floorboard guitar and voodoo drumming for maximum effect. In turn, Cave is both singing with maturity and ranting and raving like the lunatic he often becomes in performance.
By combining the stately arrangements of The Good Son with his early work’s literary richness, Let Love In, Cave’s eighth studio album with the Bad Seeds (the second with this incarnation), works the balance between prudence (a sympathetic reading of “Nobody’s Baby Now”) and wild-man fervor (“Jangling Jack”).
Cave’s ecstatic love epistles are often derailed by the hellhound on his trail. “He’s coming through your door,” Cave sings during the album’s centerpiece, “Loverman,” “with his straining sex in his jumping paw/There’s a devil crawling along your floor.” He explains what each letter stands for (“L is for love, baby”), adding relish as the insights get sicker (“R is for rape me/M is for murder me”).
Cave’s still not shying away from hyperbolic moments; he loves the drama music can produce. With Let Love In, Cave has regained the frenzy of his early work and fused it with his more recently found focus. The result is pain and pleasure transformed into rhythm, sex and death.
JC adds : The astonishing thing is this review completely bypasses Red Right Hand, without question, the most enduring and popular track from the album.
This was the album which began the gradual move towards the mainstream – not that I think that’s been a bad thing – but the down side is that Nick Cave has very much nowadays become the rock god for the chattering classes, many of whom have only discovered him since the news coverage of the personal tragedies and the fact that his music has been used to incredible effect in the hit TV show Peaky Blinders.
I say down side as I never imagined that he would be able to undertake tours of 10,000+ capacity venues, selling them out in a matter of minutes, and charging the best part of £100 a ticket for the best seats in the house…so I doubt he sees it that way. It’s not, however, for me….I’ll stick to my memories of shows from this era and the subsequent 20-odd years.