Exclaim!'s Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part One Best of 2016

13. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree
(Bad Seed Ltd.)
The Skeleton Tree embraces the sound of sorrow. An inconsolable trauma resonates throughout the album, and looms like a foreboding spectre. Certainly, death operates as a central theme on The Skeleton Tree, and evokes a sombre glimpse into dealing with the tragic loss of a loved one.
The combination of Cave's hoarse, near-spoken-word lyricism with orchestral timbres and ambient textures invites listeners to the mourning process. It's housed in the lonely hour — just moments shy of dawn — when confrontation with the irreplaceability that follows loss is the most overwhelming.
The Skeleton Tree features cinematic stretches of gloom, with tracks like "Magneto" playing on foley and feedback loops that mirror the oft-never-ending-seeming cycle of grief. In this fragile vulnerability, the album offers something genuine to pry open, then emotionally immerse yourself in.
Corinne Przybyslawski