Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Birthday Party - Mutiny/The Bad Seed (1989)

| Gothic Rock | Post-Punk | Noise Rock | Deathrock |

Collecting the two EPs onto one disc, this release also includes two rough mixes from the Mutiny sessions as a bonus. "The Six Strings That Drew Blood," also later recorded by Cave's Bad Seeds, is a quick brawler like many a past Party classic, Cave hitting a strangled falsetto at points as the group rips along. "Pleasure Avalanche" works on the slow grind trip; Cave husks his vocals over a nicely creepy arrangement from the rest, calling for the titular situation in question with increasing desperation.

Mostly featuring songs written by Cave and Harvey together, The Bad Seed forecasts the imminent future of Cave as a solo artist and Harvey as his right-hand man in more than just title. Now down to a four-piece following the departure of Calvert, the Party weren't any less confrontational than before; the opening sounds one hears is Cave yelling, "Hands up, who wants to die?!" Sound overall is a touch crisper than on other studio tracks, with Cave even more front and center than before. "Sonny's Burning" is a quick, brisk thrash, Cave's voice cracking more than once as the music builds to a series of climaxes throughout. "Wildworld" takes a bluesy tearjerker turn, Howard's death-rattle guitar perfectly suiting the song and setting the atmosphere. "Fears of Gun" builds up a tense energy over a favored lyrical subject for Cave (crime, insanity, and romance), with Pew and Harvey's tight rhythm matched by Howard's scratchy feedback. "Deep in the Woods" ends in all on a perfectly outrageous note, with Cave at his most sepulchral conjuring up a rural scene of devastation. The delivery and lyrics redefine the phrase "over the top,'" but the slow pound of the drums and Howard's downbeat, echoed plucking somehow makes everything work in spite of itself.

The final Party studio release, Mutiny, has the band thrashing to its conclusion. Given that the various projects that rose in its wake -- Cave's solo career, Harvey and Howard's work with Crime and the City Solution, Howard's own solo efforts -- all sound like logical extensions of the Party's sound; artistic dissatisfaction can't explain what brought the Party to an end. Whatever went down, though, the group bowed out with artistic extremism intact, if not always exploding all over the place as in years past. "Jennifers Veil" sounds like a slightly lighter -- but only just -- cousin to Bad Seed's "Deep in the Woods," Cave singing more than intoning, calling to mind the burned romantic of his later years more than once. "Say a Spell" runs at about the same pace but with more feedback to burn, a good torchy blues with a fine howl or two to recommend it. "Swampland" turns up the energy level all around, a crunchy romp through the low and mean places, sonically and lyrically, the Party made their own. "Mutiny in Heaven" closes it all off with a final, worthy blast of fire. Blixa Bargeld guests from Einsturzende Neubaten, foreshadowing his role as key guitarist for Cave's Bad Seeds, with sudden edits and a roaring central refrain from Cave, when not otherwise detailing a world turned upside down with all the fire of a travelling evangelist.

Catalog: CAD 301 CD (4AD)
Album Overview on Allmusic
Download (256kbps)


  1. This was my introduction to Nick Cave/TBP. Great to see it posted for others to check out.

  2. it was mine to TBP! great album!