Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds:  Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)

WE know the Bad Seeds remain a band with fangs whose frontman can still roar and snarl with the best of them.

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We know because we have the evidence: two albums by Grinderman, Cave's garage rock side project, and Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, the Bad Seeds' shouty 2008 offering.

With that in mind, the poise and control shown by all concerned on Push The Sky Away is doubly impressive – and makes the nine-song set feel doubly menacing. It's as tight and quiet as a coiled snake waiting to strike.

And strike it does. Opener We No Who U R, an intense ballad framed by woody, organic instrumentation, sets the tone for most of what follows.

Mermaids feature prominently – hanging by their hair from lamp-posts, in one particularly vivid lyric – though whether they're metaphor or mirage is hard to say.

The usual elemental concerns return too – God, sex, love – and only in Cave's hands could "catch", "match" and "snatch" form such a startling image, as happens in Mermaids' brutal-yet-tender opening salvo.

A powerful return to the cutting edge from a 55-year-old artist fast approaching elder statesman status.

Barry Didcock