Opposite Sex: High Drama (Spik & Span/digital outlets)

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Shoots Me Like a Knife
Opposite Sex: High Drama (Spik & Span/digital outlets)

Most music has turned into such commodified product that it's sometimes hard to remember the period – before the lifetime of some, of course – when musicians took risks, made the noises they wanted and just went their own way independent of everyone else.

Maybe the post-punk period of the early Eighties – the time we refer to here – was an aberration: but it sure was exciting and you never knew where the Next Cult Thing would come from.

Who would have predicted Pere Ubu or Tall Dwarfs

Opposite Sex out of Dunedin – bassist/singer Lucy Hunter, drummer/singer Tim Player, guitarist/singer Reg Norris – have willfully been going their own way over two previous albums this past decade and are unapologetically part of that post-punk ethos.

Their reference points on this third album are diverse – pop and rock of course, noise and declamatory idiosyncratic vocals akin to Mark E Smith or Chris Knox with massive and annoying migraines – but with Hunter sometimes turning in a little-girl-hurt over staccato guitars (Dick on a Throne) you're into almost indefinable territory.

Oh, and the guitar grunge-into-ballad Owls Do Cry has lines lifted from Janet Frame's bleak novel of the same name and ol' Bill Shakespeare's confusing Tempest.

Of course it has.

The album – which comes in a gorgeously evocative and framable vinyl cover, with clever label art on the record – is well named. It opens abruptly with the urgent Shoots Me Like a Knife which is like a Sixties girl group put through the Fall's blender then they follow it up with the eerie, off-kilter monochrome pop of Breath in a Dish.

Robotica and Nico are strident slices of pop'n'noise channeled from that exciting post-punk era but again wrapped up or embedded in interesting sonic structures.

They also deliver ear-scouring powered-up pop-rock (Hunter's perilous but innocent sounding delivery on the horrors of Combined Harvester). And Dinosaur takes this out on dark bluesy and metaphorical mood of coiled menace.

Previously we've wondered about Hunter's vocal limitations and naïve style but this time out she has found exactly the right spot between innocence and astuteness, and the intensity of focus here throughout really is a leap up from their previous, more diffuse work.

Love and menace, pop and noise. High drama indeed. 

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You can hear and buy this album (digitally, on lovely vinyl and cassette) at bandcamp here



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