Top positive review
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All Beauty Must Die
on 31 December 2003
There’s none of the brash explosive violence of early Cave here, this is as polished as it gets... not that that is a criticism you understand. No, this is an epic in every sense of the word.
Here, Cave draws on the principal preoccupations that he is most synonymous with - love, death, drugs, madness, murder and religion being amongst the more obvious - and creates a work of intense, cathartic beauty. Even the flowers on the cover give us a suggestion of the way ahead, giving us a new Nick no longer Kicking Against the Pricks but instead, almost wilting in the sense of autumnal melancholy that marks out many of these songs.
Here it is the mournful string arrangements of Warren Ellis and Mick Harvey that really set the scene for Nick’s most touchingly operatic work... an album that speaks in bursts of poetic beauty whilst unfolding with the kind of surreal detachment usually reserved for dreamscapes and early Van Morrison. I suppose that’s the fairest summation. If the earlier Boatman’s Call was Nick’s Blood on the Tracks then surely this is his Astral Weeks... a collection of intensely beautiful songs that suffocate the listener with their languid pace and lyrical grace.
There’s simply no stand out here. As with the majority of Nick’s output, the record unfolds naturally... each songs is as important as the one that preceded it, building up to a moody crescendo around track seven, which is then sustained till the very last. Here Nick croons along in true balladeer mode, whilst the ever-excellent Bad Seeds create haunting landscapes of music that complement Cave’s blend of gospel poetry perfectly. We also see the vocal addition of Kate and Anna McGarrigle, who bring their idiosyncratic blend of gothic folk to a number of tracks, most notably, Hallelujah.
This is a wonderful work, more mature and certainly more personal than some of Cave’s earlier output. True, some of the songs lack the emotional resonance of say, The Good Son or the darkly comic intensity of the haunting Murder Ballads, but in it’s own right, this is simply spectacular. No More Shall We Part... definitely one for lovers of intimate lyrical confessionals packed with musical perfection. 5/5