Biffy Clyro has been around for a while now, but has only started gaining popularity in the States this year thanks to their latest album. But anyone who wants to get familiar with the band should listen to this record. Not only is it amazing, it has elements of their earlier work and what they would do later. Each track is filled with enrapturing music, lyrics that intrigue, maybe even confuse you, and sweet vocals from Simon Neil who still has the most lovely Scottish accent.
The opening track is probably one of my all time Biffy songs. “Living is a Problem Because Everyone Dies” begins with a tizzy of stringed instruments and dramatic music that you don’t expect from a rock band, unless you’re listening to Muse. This is followed by chanting from a choir that brings this epic tone and feel full circle. This intro alone really makes you stand up and take notice of the band. When the more modern rock music comes in, it’s a beautiful and smart blend of the two genres that really makes the song stand out from the rest. If you couldn’t guess from the title, the chorus reveals just how bleak the track is: “Don’t wanna waste no more time/Time’s what we don’t have/Everywhere I look someone dies/Wonder when it’s my turn.” It’s about how there are those times when we are aware of our own mortality. Though it is about the inevitability of death, it still manages to be catchy in the end.
Things pick up with “Saturday Superhouse” and “Who’s Got a Match?” They’re both pretty upbeat rock songs in terms of music that are sure to get you moving. The former track seems to continue the bleak theme of the album with this song mapping out how you’re not always sure if you’re making the right decisions in life. The latter song is pretty simple and straight to the point, but it’s still great. It has this awesome jaunty riff that makes you bob along and the chorus of “I’m a fire and I’ll burn, burn, burn tonight” will easily get stuck in your head. The intense music in both tracks are another reason they stick out so well and gel with the listener. Though it’s clear the band likes to rock out, they’re more than happy to bring the vibe down to a mellow note.
“As Dust Dances” brings the mood down with some relaxing music that eases the listener. One thing I really like about the song is how the first verse points out little actions our bodies does that we don’t think about: “Ever think what your eyes do when they’re trying to sleep/But where your tongue rests, is it against your teeth.” Lines like these are just brilliant because you can picture them clearly in your head before you start wondering about those small actions. Really all of the imagery in this song is great. It’s here that you really see what talented writers they are. There are a lot of clever wordplay and images used in their songs. Thanks to the music and the lyrics, the track has this overall feeling of isolation, especially when Simon repeats “It’s such a lonely ride.”
Another song where the clever wordplay comes out is “Semi-Mental.” This is where we get the really heavy intense music similar to that found on their first few albums. When you look at the lyrics it seems to be about someone who is unstable and may be suffering from multiple personality disorder, but it’s the chorus here that stands out: “You shone a light on my life, now I’m just sentimental.” It’s not until you look back at the song title that you see what’s going on here. It’s such a subtle detail that really works to unveil the cleverness of the track. The epic feeling comes back on the track “9/15ths.” It begins with depressing music before the strings make a return to really make the sad mood come to life. This goes on for a few minutes before Neil sings “We’re on a hell slide, help us help us.” When this line is heard, it sounds like you’ve hit rock bottom. With the intense rock music coming in again to mix with the stringed instruments and a return of the choir repeating that line, it sounds like something that would play on your way to Hell. This song is just one of the reasons that Biffy is so great.
The album ends on a sweet, hopeful note with “Machines.” Unlike most of the songs here this one is acoustic that starts out kind of somber. The mood picks up as the mood progresses. The music here is really lovely and puts the listener in a good mood. The song is also kind of uplifting because it serves as a reminder that no matter how bad life gets, there are moments that makes it worth while. For an album that deals a lot with dark times, it ends on a positive note. It’s also kind of surprising that the record ends on a soft note since a lot of the music is beforehand is intense. Either way it’s an interesting way to end the album.
Overall, the album gets 9/10. It’s an awesome album that shows why Biffy Clyro is a great band. It has elements of their early work as well as hints to what they would do later on. It also shows off their wide musical range from straightforward rock songs to big orchestral pieces. The wide variety of songs along with the lyrical themes makes this one of the band’s best albums. If you want to know what the hype is all about, then check out this record; you’ll see why Biffy’s been on everyone’s lips.