Album: Nick Cave &amp: the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away (Mute)

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The Independent Culture

There's a joke that does the rounds every time Tim Burton brings out a lavish gothic romance starring Johnny and Helena: "I see Tim Burton's made his film again."

There's a temptation, whenever a Bad Seeds album fails to include even one blast of fire-and-brimstone rock'n'roll, to react with: "I see Nick Cave's made his slow, quiet album again."

There's a significant difference, however, between Push the Sky Away and previous meditative Cave albums. It is, he's said, a very Brighton album, but it's the Brighton of Down Terrace and lingering paranoia, not of Fatboy Slim and carefree partying.

There's a subtle soul groove to Conway Savage's keyboards. "Wide Lovely Eyes" and "We Real Cool" both sound like the low revs of some great machine withholding its power. "Water's Edge" has the same atmosphere of seaside menace and murder as Suddenly, Last Summer or Camus' L'Etranger, while the dread-filled but strangely comic "Higgs Boson Blues" name-checks Robert Johnson and Hannah Montana as well as "the caliphate forced on the Jews" and Lucifer with "a hundred black babies running from his genocidal jaw".

PTSA may never stare you in the face, but you'd be a fool to turn your back on it. It's carrying a knife.