Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have set their critical bar so high in recent years that this album is, for me, probably their weakest during the 2000s. It doesn't have the consistency of great songs as has Abattoir Blues, Dig Lazarus Dig, or their masterpiece, No More Shall We Part. Nevertheless, it is still a very good record. leaving most other 'rock' records in the shade.
Standout songs are Wonderful Life, He Wants You and Bring It On (the latter being right up there with Cave's best). However, on a recent play of the album (the first in a few years I'll admit), I was struck by the majestic masterpiece that is the album's epic 15-minute closer Babe I'm On Fire. On first hearing this song appears to be a (rare) piece of Cave over-indulgence, comprising 38 (yes count them!) identical verses, followed by a few interspersed choruses, leading to an initial impression of irritating repetition. But, on subsequent listens this song grows in stature until it achieves the aforementioned classic status. In its gradual increase in intensity, it begins to live in the same league as such other extended epics such as the Velvet's Sister Ray, Yo La Tengo's And The Glitter Is Gone and even Bowie's Cygnet Committee.
The song's wonderfulness is, of course, substantiated by some of the wittiest lyrics Cave has thus far set on paper - each verse just gets funnier and funnier, with Cave stretching the limits of lyricism to achieve some marvellous rhymes. My current favourite is the following:
The athlete with his hernia says it
Picasso with his Guernica says it
My wife with her furniture
Babe, I'm on fire
Marvellous stuff. Oh, and if this wasn't enough, there are backing vocals on this song (and two others on the album) from legendary Blockheads, Messrs Jankel, Watt-Roy, Gallagher and Turnbull.