Man, the new Tom Waits album is so good. It’s his best in years. Of course, Tom Waits isn’t capable of making anything bad. He is simply never anything less that fascinating. We’d pay to hear him read a scientific paper about ants, which he did on the Orphans triptych. That behemoth had things going for it, but it was also a case of overload and exhaustion. Exhaustion for the listener dealt three discs worth of Waits showing how weird he can be. At 13 tracks Bad As Me is no longer or shorter than average, but it zips by on high energy. Waits sounds like he’s having mad fun barking, growling and even crooning. It’s also a benefit that there’s no grand idea or theme besides the usual things that Tom Waits likes; booze, coffee and lonely nights. On the uptempo numbers he sounds like a Mad Hatter gone to seed. He lets out some stomping aggression, with assistance from kindred pirate Keith Richards. Don’t forget the ballads either, they’re some of his best love songs, all about memory and regret, maybe with a rusty sliver of hope.