There are two kinds of Nick Cave songs: the messy noise art of The Birthday Party and (I speak the name with horror) Grinderman, and the weirdo torch songs of the No More Shall We Part-era Bad Seeds. Luckily for us, “We No Who U R”—the single from Cave’s forthcoming Push the Sky Away—is the second kind. There are drum machines, but they are restrained. The important thing is that the single-dubbed piano is there, evoking images of a semi-fictional singer/songwriter in a cold house with that instrument, several locked rooms and a typewriter, driving himself crazy looking for keys.
Maybe that’s just how I picture him. The real man probably lives some less tortured life, but I prefer that version to the other fake Nick Cave—the frothing, blues-damaged howler that has dominated his output of late. That is the Nick Cave that launched the enterprise, but for my money it’s the melancholy, middle-period Cave that ties his catalog together. If “We No Who U R” is any indication, that’s who we’ll be getting in February. It’s good music for dark winter, when the strongest light is reflected off the snow