In his trademark bottomless voice, Nick Cave narrates one tragic, violent tale after another.
In excruciating detail, he examines the fine apects of murder, varying viewpoints between victims and killers, and investigating the dialogue between them from many angles. Murder Ballads, his ninth release with the Bad Seeds, is Cave at his most raw and lyrical. He delves unflinchingly into macabre territory with the backing of his band's spare, moaning, reverb-rich playing - by turns sweetly tuneful and disjointedly dirge-like. PJ Harvey assumes the role of a woman scorned on Henry Lee, in which she describes stabbing to death the man who rejects her. Her story is interspersed with choruses of, "la la la la la/la la la la lee / a little bird lit down on Henry Lee", adding a sense of perverse humour to the ballad's bleakness. On Where the Wild Roses Grow, a man kills his lover, explaining that "All Beauty Must Die", and Kylie Minogue provides the innocent, breathy voice of the dead lover with a ghostly, haunting softness. Yet amid the troubling, startling brutality runs a sense of fragility and a poetic lyricism that makes these songs linger.