Random Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads

  This week’s album was randomly selected from a list of the ‘Top 10 Halloween Albums’, keeping in with the Halloween spirit of this week’s spread. An album about murder stories was a fun concept, or so I thought. Murder Ballads could have been side splittingly hilarious or chillingly creepy, but instead it was repetitive, […]

Julia McGee-Russell
29th October 2018
Credit: wikipedia

 

This week’s album was randomly selected from a list of the ‘Top 10 Halloween Albums’, keeping in with the Halloween spirit of this week’s spread.

An album about murder stories was a fun concept, or so I thought. Murder Ballads could have been side splittingly hilarious or chillingly creepy, but instead it was repetitive, dull, and a test of my patience. If you’ve heard the first 30 seconds of any song, you’ve heard it all. If your taste in music runs towards songs that are so awful you almost have to laugh at them – this is the album for you.

‘Song of Joy’ – This seedy bar ballad, ironically titled ‘Song of Joy’ desperately reaches for a rocky horror style but falls dismally flat. It’s akin to the monotone reading your tedious English teacher would give back when you had to pretend to care about Of Mice and Men. I wouldn’t listen to it in my spare time, but it’s unnerving enough to provide passable background ambience for a séance, creepy party or night-time graveyard wander.

‘Stagger Lee’ – Calling the vocals on this track ‘singing’ is a bit of a stretch. The guitar also sounds a little broken with its clock-like picking. If you didn’t read the title of the song, don’t worry, you’ll know it once it’s repeated every ten seconds. It literally descends into incessant screaming around a third of the way through. Even with a title like Murder Ballads, I wasn’t expecting a complete murder of my eardrums. Ouch.
‘Henry Lee’ – Thankfully, the lead singer on this is a woman who is at least tuneful. Unfortunately, she is still accompanied by Mr Nick Dramatic-Speak/Singing-To-Hide-My-Tunelessness Cave. This is a morbid ballad duet where a series of “la lalalala”s apparently constitutes a chorus, and the same 3 bars of tune over and over again for four minutes is a “melody”. A song best left unheard.

‘Lovely Creature’ –The Green Ribbons in this Lovely Creature’s hair must be very important to be mentioned every time you start to drift off to distraction. Entirely unremarkable, and full of yet more speak-singing and ‘lalalas’.

‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’ – Starting with appealingly gloomy violins, this song unfortunately fades into a bizarre country-western sounding ballad sung by Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave. Rather inoffensive compared to the others, but still unbearably uninteresting. If you can cope with Kylie singing “they call me the Wild Rose, but my name was Eliza Day” a billion times, you’ll manage these four mediocre minutes. The only part that rises slightly above mediocrity is when romance ends with Kylie’s man kneeling above her “with a rock in his fist”, his only justification being “all beauty must die”. Gosh Kylie, you really know how to pick ‘em.

‘O’Malley’s Bar’ – It’s hard to decide the scariest part of this song, the completely off-key singing or the horrifying 14.28-minute length? The opening minute is the worst singing on the entire album. Just save your ears. There’s even a completely unreasonable organ/synth sound going on, like some horrifying Addams family elevator music. It devolves into huffing and puffing devoid of words and tune at least twice, and ends in grunting. This song is the only one I had to skip part of. It is what would play in my own personal Bad Place.

‘Death is Not the End’ – Although apparently death is not the end, this is thankfully the end of this god-awful album. Yet another “song” with stilton levels of cheese, this time with the addition of a Dracula accent. At least it’s under five minutes, I guess?

A randomly selected album is always going to be risky. Like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, there are some interesting flavours out there. I didn’t know what to expect beforehand, but this time it was, alas, earwax.

 

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AUTHOR: Julia McGee-Russell
Deputy Editor of The Courier, previously Arts Sub-Editor and Head of News at Newcastle Student Radio. Lover of all things arts, culture, and self-care.

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