No two words in the English language inspire a greater sense of dread in the mind of a music journalist than: “Rock Opera.” (Maybe “Muse return,” but that’s for another review.) Fucked Up were already a band blasting through the genre signifiers of the Toronto hardcore scene from which they'd sprung when they announced that their third album, David Comes to Life, was going to be a narrative concept album: a hardcore rock opera, set in the fictional town of Byrdesdale Spa, in late 70s, early 80s England, which followed its titular protagonist, a worker in a light bulb factory who gets into all sorts of scrapes involving bombs, dead lovers and a truckload of metatextuality. Fortunately, the album was a far cry from the stilted, cheesy spectacle expected by Meat Loaf-allergic cynics. The framing device merely served as a platform from which Fucked Up launched themselves into the stratosphere, exploding their sound in all directions whilst addressing personal truths via a fictional proxy. You could follow the story if you wanted, but it was all bonus material to what was an incredibly impressive, irresistibly catchy album. On Dose Your Dreams, the band revisit David's story, and go beyond the stratosphere, into other, metaphysical, interdimensional realms. They're done with being merely impressive; they're here to blow minds.

String arranger par excellence, Owen Pallett, who contributes his singular brand of high-drama accompaniments to a trio of songs on Dose Your Dreams, gave us all a heads up on the giddily reverent press release that accompanied the album's announcement. What stuck out from that mini-essay was the proclamation that, in Dose Your Dreams, Fucked Up had made their Screamadelica. And certainly those moments when you’re drawn to recall Primal Scream and the baggily-trousered Madchester scene are the stylistic experiments that stand out as the band's boldest sonic departures yet. But they only tell a fraction of the whole story. The album is a bona fide genre smorgasbord, a declaration of open season on style; in short: a music nerd’s dream. Dabbling in skyscraping shoegaze, skronking bar room rock, booming digital hardcore, motorik krautrock, Beach Boys-ian hymnals, electronica-tinged atmospherics, and Madchester-indebted euphoria, sometimes shifting thrillingly between one or the other multiple times in one song, Fucked Up are on a mission to convert listeners to the enlightened mind state that comes with genre agnosticism.

Harkening back to a recently bygone era when ambitious indie rock dominated the critical conversation, Dose Your Dreams makes its ambitions known from the outset and raises a stern middle finger to our collectively stunted attention spans. From the opening plaintive piano figure, that introduces us to the world, before 'None of your Business, Man’ bursts into life, to the Miya Folick-led closer, 'Joy Stops Time,’ Fucked Up take us on a journey that's the musical equivalent of the metaphysical one through astral plains that the story’s now desk-job-weary protagonist goes on at the behest of Joyce, a mystic woman/sorceress who lives in a bin outside of his office. Now, if that sounds utterly daft to you (and yes, there are some unbearably twee turns of phrase in some of these lyrics), rest assured: as with David Comes To Life, this album is perfectly enjoyable without requiring listeners to follow its narrative.

After the relatively lifeless Glass Boys (2014), Fucked up sound like a band revitalised. Virtually every song is crammed with memorable hooks and urgent refrains. The melodies are the strongest of the band’s career. The instrumentation is diverse. The production is by turns clear, and overwhelming when it needs to be. Guitarist, Mike Haliechuk, and guitarist/drummer, Jonah Falco, spent two years fastidiously crafting their follow up, drawing upon an extensive list of collaborators, including more prominently than ever, other vocalists. Much has been made of how talismanic Fucked Up frontman, Damian Abraham, possessor of the most emotive growl/howl in hardcore psychedelic punk (not sure who the competition is), has been demoted to playing more of a supporting role in his own band. Whilst it’s true that more songs than ever before omit him entirely or merely give him the chorus to sink his considerable teeth into, it’s never in doubt that Abraham is essential to this band’s identity. The likes of J Mascis, Jennifer Castle and, especially Miya Folick, are welcome additions, but they are the supporting players to Abraham, who, for the most part, takes centre stage as David. On ‘Torch to Light’ and ‘Talking Pictures,’ atmospheric passages featuring Amy Gottung are thrillingly interrupted whenever Abraham grabs the mic, taking each song by the scruff of the neck and bashing it into submission.

It’s a trick Fucked Up repeat throughout the album, and it never gets old. In fact, imagine 80+ minutes of Abraham screaming relentlessly and you’d feel overwhelmed before you’ve even heard a note. A song like ‘Normal People,’ which makes a strong case for itself as The Best Ever Fucked Up Song, is so good precisely because of the myriad voices it contains. No less than five different people contribute vocals to the song, all bringing something unique to the table, from the camp high-drama of that spoken word intro, to the stretched emotional yearning of the verses, to the delightful male-female call-and-response of the chorus. It’s an absolute joy from start to finish.

If anything, Dose Your Dreams just feels like even more of a community-driven piece of art than any of the band’s previous records. The album recalls Broken Social Scene in its sense of scale, of sheer numbers of people in the room. Mid-album, slow-burning cut ‘How to Die Happy’ could have easily slotted in on You Forgot it In People. Actually scratch that, it sounds like it should have been on the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, with its Kevin Shields-ian shoegaze sheen and keening romanticism. It even has the 60s girl group drumbeat that The Jesus & Mary Chain were so enamoured with. Wait. Is Bobby Gillespie the patron saint of this album?

There are such musical riches to uncover on Dose Your Dreams that I could witter on for over 3000 words just to do it all justice (don’t worry, I won’t). There’s the swirling, string-soaked, churn of the Happy Mondays-aping title track; the perversely uplifting, anthemic denouement of ‘I Don’t Wanna Live in This [FUCKING] World Anymore’;’ the Sympathy for the Devil-esque “Ooo-oohs” that lift ‘Talking Pictures,’ carefree, into the air; the driving, swollen-hearted indie-rock of ‘The One I Want Will Come for Me’ and ‘Came Down Wrong’; the brutal, forward-thinking one-two punch of ‘Mechanical Bull’ and ‘Accelerate,’ which prove Fucked Up haven’t gone soft and are resolutely looking to the future.

And then there’s ‘Joy Stops Time.’ Never mind the belabored pun on the bin-dwelling sorceress’ name (Joyce Tops); this is the closer of the year. Taking on the classic Régine Chassagne-led Arcade Fire cuts at their own game and coming out on top, Miya Folick’s passionate lead vocal performance over one of Fucked Up’s top-tier excursions into motorik Krautrock, accompanied by Owen Pallett’s strings, makes for a heady concoction that caps off the album beautifully.

When those final notes ring out, you’d be excused for collapsing in an exhausted, emotionally drained heap on the floor. Dose Your Dreams is basically feature length. It is, in fact, a remarkably cinematic experience. With Haliechuk and Falco squeezing in to the co-directors chair, Fucked Up have delivered a record that deserves the HBO visual album treatment (someone get Michel Gondry on the phone). Dose Your Dreams creates a vividly realised world I love to visit. Once I press play, I feel compelled to see it through to the end. Other listeners will tackle it in chunks. Die-hard fans of the band’s earliest, more straightforward, hard-rocking work might well cull everything but ‘Raise Your Voice, Joyce,’ ‘House of Keys,’ and ‘Living in a Simulation,’ but everyone knows that the band only really took off when they leaned in to their psychedelic tendencies. On Dose Your Dreams, they’re soaring.