Fans of post-punk fuzz merchant’s, Opposite Sex, are going to find plenty to love on their latest outing, High Drama. Everything is here, just bigger. The eery effects of twisted powerlines on guitar are still here, but they come with the crunching of a car crash. The vocals still bite, and the drumming can swing between understated to raucous. The opening track, Shoots Me Like a Knife, rockets out with Lucy Hunter’s singing, demanding and accusatory, buoyed along by frantic drumming from Tim Player. It’s a brilliant and caustic beginning to an album that takes the best things of 2016’s Hamlet and dials them up.
Hunter’s vocals are such an asset to the group; there is a lightness, even a sweetness to her voice that belies the strength in her lyrics. When paired with the cavalcade of screeching and droning that Reg Norris puts out on guitar, it’s the juxtaposition that creates an accessibility to the noisy and riotous instrumental. When the boys are left in charge of singing, like on Tumble Down/Mikhail, or the bass is heavier, it becomes darker again, a breathy horror sequence of peering around corners, which is exciting, though nerve-wrecking. Hunter pulls us back to safety.
The demo of Dick on a Throne from 2016 is up on Opposite Sex’s bandcamp page, but the album version is a huge step forward. Norris’ brimming guitar is a near perfect stage for Hunter’s delivery, lighting up her revulsion and letting it simmer. It’s that layering again, a casualness in her voice, and lyrics like, “Stop staring at your dick, its gross/Don’t tell me how to sit, its gross,” that adds a sense of humour in what becomes a black comedy. The song moves from skin scraping on concrete to fist pumping peaks.
The second half of the album perhaps doesn’t quite hold the magnitude of the first half. Owls Do Cry moves from sounding tried to nearly breaking apart, which is a helluva journey in eight or so minutes, but like Mondays, I don’t want to wake up that fast. Robotica is cute but doesn’t quite land as well as the opening track which is its best comparison point. Neither it, nor the beat poetry in a car crusher that is Nico, are must skip tracks, they’re just not to the same level as some others.
This slightly off-kilter, sonically diverse album is genuinely fantastic and frightening. It’s like seeing sparks flying in a petrol station and that excitement is what drives the album forward. There will be plenty people eagerly waiting on this album, but it’s those opposites that will draw in new listeners; those contraries in Hunter’s voice and lyrics, Norris’ guitar-cum-wrecking yard and Player’s nous in balancing them on top of smashing hi-hats and snares. A raw and visceral delight. - Hp
* 'High Drama' is released on Friday March 5th on Spik and Span Records