If Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ fifteenth album is their first unmistakeably inspired by the singer’s adopted home of Brighton, it’s not quite as the tourist board might have ordered. Daytripping girls succumb to a local gang on the beach, ‘legs wide to the world like bibles open’. Rides are being dismantled, brothels moving in. A ballad of contented domesticity drifts towards sorrow at the sea’s edge. And a familiar figure with a case of the 'No Pussy Blues' is looking at those mermaids funny.
Palpably post Grinderman (The Bad Seeds’ brilliant, middle-aged stag party of a side-project) and post Bunny Monro (the crumpled protagonist of Cave’s 2009 novel, a subverted ‘sex romp’ across the South East) these nine songs are suffused with end-of-season sadness, from the tidal ebb of ‘Wide Lovely Eyes’ to the shivering meta-blues of ‘Finishing Jubilee Street’. This is astoundingly powerful and singular storytelling, scored with devilish subtlety, unfolding with the grotesque modern detail and mythic scope of a Grayson Perry tapestry.
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