Biffy Clyro


Written by: TL on 31/07/2016 11:35:40

Scottish trio Biffy Clyro have been around for more than 20 years now, although many might not realise this since they've only been recognised as the best band in Scotland and one of the best in the world for the latter third of those or so. Debuting in 2002 with the grunge/emo of "Blackened Sky", the band initially anchored themselves solidly in the alternative with two nutty, mathy follow-ups in 03's "Vertigo Of Bliss" and 04's "Infinity Land", yet in 2007 they seemingly decided to prove that they could wrap their twisting and twining guitar figures around some more linear song structures, and the rest is history. "Puzzle" from that year broke a path through to more widespread attention, and arriving at "Ellipsis" this year after growing to international recognition with 09's "Only Revolution" and 13's double album "Opposites", the beckoning question is now whether Biffy still have something to prove, or if they've been so successful that they're more part of the establishment than part of the opposition.

To start with the good news, "Ellipsis" certainly proves that Biffy are in top form when it comes to writing catchy melodies, because the opening half of the record has hooks for days. Whether you're really impressed with what you hear, the refrains to "Wolves of Winter", "Re-arrange" and particularly "Friends and Enemies" are the kind that can get in your mind and stay there to borderline annoying effect. The latter is such an obvious hit-type of song you gotta just shake your head and acknowledge it. Opting to take a break from otherwise regular producer since "Puzzle", Garth Richardson, and instead flying to Los Angeles to collaborate with Rich Costey, however, starts to seem like a questionable decision from the band once you really sink your teeth into the record. Because why fly halfway around the world just to have your sound softened up and 'adorned' with unnecessary and soapy sounding child choirs? Have child choirs ever made a rock record better? And what's with calling a single "Wolves of Winter"? Sure, it's probably unrelated, but doesn't it inevitably feel a bit lame regardless, in these times of global Game Of Thrones addiction?

Regardless, "Ellipsis" does play like your usual Biffy record. The most impactful stuff is up front, while things start to get a bit back and forth down the stretch. "Re-arrange" is a musically uneventful piece of balladry with annoying drums-that-sound-like-clapping effect, while "Herex" breathes extra air into the notion that this album as a whole actually has most in common with the slightly silly song "The Captain" from back on "Only Revolutions". The more conventional Biffy-ballad "Medicine" is better, though, developing more tastefully across its length, and the rampant "On A Bang" sounds almost like the fiery Biffy of prior years, marking a song you would probably prefer to have added to the group's setlist instead of some of the earlier singles on the record. The carefree "Small Wishes" feels completely out of place, though, to the point where it should arguably have been kept a b-side and well, you get it, this up and down routine is the album in a nutshell.

Overarchingly, the main impression of "Ellipsis" is that the band has fallen into the trap somewhat, of writing easy tunes for their by now massive concerts, while neglecting the edge and bite that made them who they are in the first place. It doesn't make for a bad listen, as there are still frequent moments where their basic qualities are evident, but none of the songs on here are really songs for you to want to believe in - There's a far cry to career high marks like "Justboy", "Living Is A Problem...", "The Golden Rule" or "Victory Over The Sun". Thus, Biffy have a bit of an off-album, the best thing about which is that it at least makes you feel like going back and spinning some of their other records some more.


Download: Medicine, On A Bang, Friends and Enemies, Wolves of Winter
For The Fans Of: Foo Fighters, Twin Atlantic, Fatherson

Release date 08.07.2016
14th Floor / Warner Bros

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