Cave, Cave fatal Cave. It took Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds four years to follow up The Boatman's Call, an unusually lengthy spell without an album for them. 2001's No More Shall We Part is one of their most ornate albums, and also, at 67 minutes, a long one.
As I Sat Sadly By Her Side sets the tone for the album, Cave warbling in a register that doesn't quite suit him over tinkling piano, guitar and strings. This is followed up by a run of three of the albums stronger tracks. And No More Shall We Part consists mainly of piano and a slightly over-wrought vocal. Yet it's all the better for it, and towards the end, Warren Ellis' understated violin and the McGarrigle sisters join in on backing vocals.
The aforementioned pairing have a rather more prominent role on Hallelujah, the song hinges on a looping Ellis violin part that everything else weaves in and out of. This is followed up by one of the downright loveliest songs in the band's catalogue. Love Letter has a bed of sighing violin and gentle piano, all for Cave to sing of... well, love.
The album couldn't continue like this, and thankfully it doesn't. Well, not really. Many of the songs could soundtrack a sort of Bronté, Yorkshire moors style brand of doomed romance. Sweetheart Come and the dramatic piano ballad The Sorrowful Wife are two of the better offerings here. However the album feels, well, a bit long. By the time we reach Darker With The Day, Cave's lyric about "taking a final walk" feel somehow apt. Though a very pretty album, it's a long way from the teeth-baring of even Let Love In, let alone their earlier work.