By Massimo Usai
From a few weeks, we know that a record from Nick Cave was coming. It was known that it would be called “Carnage”, ” but it was unknown when it came out.
And here it comes by surprise on a casual Thursday afternoon at the end of February.
A tweet, a simultaneous post on Nick Cave’s social channels, and here it appears as if by magic on the various streaming services.
We have all expressed our views on this last year about our life under Pandemic.
This blog is full of posts about it, and so are all the blogs; all our public or private talks are about the Pandemic.
Then Nick comes, and in 40 minutes, with eight little stories, he spreads us all out, and our words look so small in front of his analysis of the last twelve months clear predominant in “Carnage”.
The album has the double signature Nick Cave / Warren Ellis, without the Bad Seeds involved and only the eccentric violinist.
They did made together so many soundtracks in the past.
Nick Cave described his work on his blog in January
“a brutal but stunning record nested in a communal catastrophe”
Warren Ellis on Carnage
“Making Carnage was an accelerated process of intense creativity – the eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days.”
The album has everything from the countless stylistic variations of the opening track “Hand of God”, to gothic sounds, which Nick had slightly abandoned recently, in the second track: “Old Times”.
But it’s the fourth track that hits me.
Nick Cave has hardly ever touched on political topics in the past, but in “White Elephant”, where he is directly referring to the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK, he sang:
“A protester kneels on the neck of a statue / The statue says “I can’t breathe” / The protester says “Now you know how it feels / and he kicks it into the sea.”
The reference was directed to the overturning of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol last year.
Then, when you least expect it, it grows to the point that “White Elephant” becomes a real stadium anthem.
“Albuquerque” and “Lavender Fields” are two ballads, which bring Nick Cave back to the maturity of his latest albums and calm the waters decisively in the agitation created from the first few tracks of his last work.
“We won’t get to anywhere, darling, anytime this year,” are the words that come into the soul from “Albuquerque”.
You can’t help to avoid to think about what it’s been like for all of us this past year forcibly locked in our houses.
The final two songs bring us back in the spirit of the whole work.
“Shattered Ground” really looks clearly a cinematic song.
In that case, the record’s ending is left to “Balcony Man”, that still have a cinematic atmospheres.
Still, the lyrics are definitely interesting (as usual).
This man (on the balcony..) imagining Fred Astaire dancing and his final crescendo is a kind of plan of hope and life.
The phrase repeated all the time in the end, “This morning is amazing, and so are you”, is so beautiful that I wanted to put it in the title of this post because I think everyone must have it present in our mind when the mood is not at the best and his last words on the song (and on the record) are emblematic, a warning and a perfect analysis, because’: “you are languid and lovely and lazy and what doesn’t kill you just makes you crazier“, but, “this morning is amazing, and so are you“.
Definitely, this is another wonderful gem of one of the best music writers of the last 40 years.
Another album that I won’t tire of listening to for the rest of my life, like for all of his previous works.