Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Higgs Boson Blues

Back in 2013, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their fifteenth album, Push the Sky Away, their best album since The Boatman’s Call.  Though the album reached critical fame, it flew under the radar of many a common listener.  The Bad Seeds are not everybody’s cup of tea, but Higgs Boson Blues is a hidden gem on the album that was not destined for radio.

The song opens with the slow strum of an electric guitar and Cave’s groaning voice.  The bass line slides up and down in the background along with a soft jazzy drum beat, Cave’s vocals the focus of the song.  Almost poetic, a chorus of singers ooh and ahh softly in the background at the end of each stanza, adding to the eerie atmosphere Cave and his band have created.  The lyrics are mesmerising as he spits about the vainness of existence despite our brightest minds discovering new possibilities.  On paper that doesn’t sound too interesting, but Cave writes in a dark, humorous tone that is charming and poetic.

The song plays much like a dream; the repetition of the guitar and bass keep the music grounded in reality as Cave’s vision moves from one thought to the next without breath.  In one line he talks about Robert Johnson’s deal with the devil, another he is taking a dig at Hannah Montana, all done with the grace that only a master lyricist could pull off.

The song builds through its seven minutes, Cave’s vocals become even more passionate as his band and backing chorus turn up the volume.  In true dreamlike fashion, the band bring us down to a mere murmur to round off the song.  It might take a couple listens to finally figure out what is going on, but Higgs Boson Blues is a track that is rich and rewarding; I’m still finding new things with each listen.  It’s one of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds best songs but is often glanced over in their mammoth discography.  It was never going to be radio material, and I kind of like that.

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