The first held notes of this double album held my attention straight away. The shock transition that follows sets up the right expectations: Biffy Clyro milks the contrast between punchy and sustained on both albums. The use of staccato phrases intoned in vocal harmony is a feature of the album, noticeably on the opening ‘Different People’ and on the second song, ‘Black Chandelier’, with the lyrics “Drip, Drip”. This can give a delightfully weird, mechanical feeling, also apparent on the second disc’s ‘Woo Woo’, where the deadpan “I will love you” and “can you love me” mirror each other, providing no answers. Rhythmically tight and irrepressibly melodic, this is primarily a studio recording rather than a live-sounding one. Opposites is rich in textures, with sparse, crystal-clear verses giving way to warm enveloping choruses. Stand-out tracks include the electronica-channelling ‘Fog’ which ventures off the beaten track with weird dissonances, disintegrating into noise and a low, pulsing, biological buzz. ‘Accident without Emergency’ brings a tangy surrealism, with retro harmonic progressions, the crisp bass offset by the eerie slithering “ooh” figures in which voice and instrument blend, building to a deeply cathartic conclusion.
“This is noise…for your entertainment,” claim the lyrics: the band had big ambitions for this record, which was made with an awareness of older bands that used the same studios to produce classics. Opposites already feels as though it could have been released a decade ago. Reminiscences of other songs lurk in places, consciously or unconsciously. At the beginning, the lyrics are about being lost, and the musical landscape is uncertain, but the progression from pessimism to optimism intended in the design of the double album is not felt as clearly as expected. I’m not sure this is distinctive enough to be a classic in 20 years’ time, but it’s certainly a strong album.