Nick Cave hasn’t sounded this unhinged in ages, wallowing in filth and fury while obsessing over sex in highlights as abrasive as “No Pussy Blues”, a song that’s so much better than its title, you’ll forget how bad the title is until he comes right out and sings it. And by that point, he’s already got you where he wants you, spitting out a laundry list of tasks he’s done to get inside her pants while sneering variations on “but she just didn’t want to” with sinister contempt.
But Cave’s vocal isn’t nearly as explosive as the stun guitar that kicks in several verses deep and returns in a fiery climax; it feels like someone blowing out his amp while running the end of the world through a wah-wah pedal. That’s Cave on guitar, an unexpected development bassist Martyn Casey swears has changed the whole dynamic of the group — which, for the record, is essentially the Bad Seeds as a surly little four-piece.
But the sound they make is darker, more disruptive and a good deal funnier than any recent Bad Seeds output, from the psychedelic jazz-punk fusion of “Electric Alice” to a droning title track that could pass for a seedier, more disarming Velvet Underground. And when they do turn it down to eleven for “Man In The Moon”, an ethereal ballad that feels like it’s floating in space, it doesn’t interrupt the flow so much as offer temporary shelter from the storm.