Review Summary: A good introduction to the band, 'Let Love In' has a good mixture of energetic rock and sorrowful atmosphere
1994's 'Let Love In' is arguably Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' best album, and one of their most popular. The album melds the vicious angry rock style of his previous album, 'Henry's Dream' with the calm slow sound of 'The Good Son', while managing to retain a dark, gloomy and pessimistic mood throughout. The songs on 'Let Love In' focus on the topic of love, but it is never seen in a positive light. Nothing here ends with a happy ending but always with heartbreak and sorrow. The whole album can be summed up in the opening lines of the title track:
“Despair and Deception, Love's ugly little twins
Came a-knocking on my door, I let them in
Darling, you're the punishment for all of my former sins
I let love in”
The first song, 'Do You Love Me?', shows Cave at his very best, musically and lyrically. Although it has a more polished sound than the rawness of the songs found on 'Henry's Son', it still manages to build up a huge amount of energy with a fantastic bass line, catchy piano melody and densely layered structure. The more polished sound gives it a slightly more poppy edge but the dark sound and fantastic lyrics would have destroyed any hope of it becoming a big hit. There is a very sinister undertone to the quite cryptic lyrics, with vivid and grim imagery implying that the narrator could be a rapist:
“Ah, here she comes, blocking the sun
Blood running down the inside of her legs
The moon in the sky is battered and mangled
And the bells from the chapel go jingle-jangle”
This is followed by the complete opposite, a slow ballad, 'Nobody's Baby Now', which substitutes the anger of the previous song with sadness and depression. The rest of the album follows this formula, with fast angry songs mixed with slow haunting and sorrowful ones, usually with melodies played on piano or distorted guitar riffs, backed up by organ. Strings and violins also appear in some songs, such as the final track, 'Do You Love Me? (Part 2)', an acoustic remake of the first track and the most creepy song of the album with lyrics about a paedophile.
Nick Cave manages to sing well with all of the album's different styles with his excellent baritone singing, singing with the energy needed in the faster songs like 'Thirsty Dog' and always sounding believable even when the lyrics get very melodramatic, as they often do. Only Cave's dark sense of humour which occasionally shines through keeps the lyrics from becoming too gloomy.
The songs are all strong but do love some of the energy near the middle. 'Loverman', which was later covered by Metallica, starts off excellently but drags on far too long, as does 'Red Right Hand' which lacks the pace and ferocity of the other similar songs. This isn't too noticeable though, as they are both good songs, just slightly too long, and the album quickly regains it's energy.
Overall, apart from a few sections that drag slightly, there isn't a huge amount to criticise with 'Let Love In'. The whole album is filled with fantastic and memorable melodies and Nick Cave's excellent if slightly over dramatic lyrics. 'Let Love In' is a good mix of Cave's different musical styles and one of his more accessible albums, so is an excellent introduction to the band.