Nocturama, a sort of prim primer in love with love, might even convert the non-believers who were never sold on his Frankie Doom persona; it's got soul, which is to say it's got heart. Maybe not in "Dead Man in My Bed," exactly: Track Five's a rock-solid rocker about a woman cursed with a deadbeat husband she wishes would beat it--or wind up dead, whichever. "I keep poking at him with my stick, but his skin is just so fucking thick," she moans like one of those Cave characters stricken with bourbonitis; once you get the laugh, around the time she moans he won't wash his hands before dinner, the joke's giving the punch line a reacharound.
But about that heart, it's all over the place but still beating in a chest for a change: in the heartstrings that push and pull the trinity of openers (Cave promises a "Wonderful Life"; Cave insists "He Wants You"; Cave is eating "Right Out of Your Hand"), in the promises he makes and breaks (he says he'll love you, then in the same song declares, "I am no use to you at all," which makes him honest if nothing else), in the threats he hints at 'cause he cares so much (too much, ask me). He's in love most of the time, the same way Greg Dulli's in heat all of the time; when he tells his lover to "Bring it On," a song that dons its pompadoured Afghan Whig, he's asking to bring her worst so he can do his best. That, or he's spoiling for a fight. Still, the last cut's the deepest: "Babe, I'm on Fire," which lasts 15 minutes and 43 verses and features some 200 characters (from Bill Gates and the Bad Seeds to "the hump-backed bell ringer" and "the man from the Klan with the torch in his hand") testifying to how badly Nick C. wants you, which is a lot. You might even give in, this time.