With acts like Dananananaykroyd, Throats and Trash Talk around, rock music is in pretty great shape at the moment. Leading the pack in 2010 by a long way, however, are Rolo Tomassi. The Sheffield band's long-awaited second album is a mind-melting mix of furious riffs, demonic howls, haunting synths and pummelled drums, all produced by M.I.A. collaborator and master DJ Diplo.
On paper it shouldn't really work, but this bizarre pairing in fact reaps many rewards. Spooky-sounding electronics herald the opening of Cosmology, but it's not long before chugging metal guitars and Eva Spence's trademark growls and shrieks rip through the Crystal Castles-esque intro and the meeting of two distinctly separate worlds makes for a spine-tingling, unholy matrimony of sound. And from then on it just gets weirder and weirder as tracks stop and start and flit from free jazz breakdowns to danceable electro and sections of proggy noodling.
Throughout, it is the interplay between James and Eva Spence's vocals and drummer Edward Dutton's mesmerising performance which impress here the most, and turns what could be a sporadic bunch of musical experiments into a perfectly cohesive body of work. The bouncing, elastic bassline-driven Party Wounds is an early favourite, but it's the final four tracks (Kasia, Sakia, Tongue-in-Chic and Cosmology) that elevate this record into must-hear status and mark Rolo Tomassi as among the most talented innovators in rock. Pretty acoustic guitars feature alongside soaring keyboards and there's even the odd pop punk scream-along, all building gradually to a luscious, anthemic climax with Eva crooning ever so sweetly.
So by the time Cosmology comes to a close it's like the Sheffield quintet has morphed into a completely different band. Compare the last offering to the brutal, eardrum-battering attack music that makes up the rest of the record and you wouldn't believe it could be done. It's an astounding progression - almost as if they develop and mature while we listen. There's nothing more thrilling than witnessing these youngsters at work as they master one genre, mess with it and then explore another one entirely, to winning effect.