It is truly sad when artists with great vision and imagination, whose work is filled with power and beauty, just kind of lose it all at once. This could be the first record Nick Cave has made that feels like he is just doing it because it is his job to make records and be Nick Cave. Everything is predictable and sounds like something Cave has done before. The Bad Seeds' edges are smoothed over by the too-slick production; Cave's lyrics are not provocative or funny or much of anything worth hearing. "He Wants You" is a smooth and tired-sounding love song, "Still in Love" is a gothic love song with cheesy lyrics and some sickly singing, and "Wonderful Life" has a nice, slinky beat and a memorable melody that is ruined by generic lyrics. There are also a few surprises of an unpleasant nature on Nocturama: "Bring It On" sounds like alternative rock by-the-numbers; without Cave's vocals it could be the Wallflowers. This could be the first Bad Seeds track to sport a depressingly standard guitar solo over the fade. Longtime Cave fans may need to reach for the smelling salts after hearing it. There are also a couple of songs that revisit the old storm-and-bang days of the Birthday Party and early Bad Seeds. One might say these forays into noisy, aggressive post-punk are commendable or one could say he is treading water he puked out 20 years ago. Add to that the fact that the racing tempos, jagged guitars, and shouted vocals of "Dead Man in My Bed" and the seemingly endless "Babe, I'm on Fire" break up the somnambulant mood of the rest of the record. Actually, while it may be derivative of his glorious past, "Babe, I'm on Fire" is a welcome blast of energy; he should have made it 30 minutes long instead of ten and called it his new record. Apart from that track, Cave sounds like a writer on his 15th book with nothing much left to say, nothing left to do but go through the motions, phoning his performance in with a yawn. His fans should send him a message by leaving Nocturama (his worst record title ever) to gather dust on record store and warehouse shelves. His laziness and weak effort should not be rewarded with your hard-earned cash.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra