Release Year: 2014
Dedicated music fans know b-sides are awesome. They often show a different side of your favorite band since they aren’t limited to the confines of an album they’re working on. While the practice isn’t completely dead, it’s a shame more artists don’t take the opportunity to create some really interesting music. Thank god for Biffy Clyro. They are one of the few bands out today who dedicate so much time to the b-side. They have several albums full of them and their newest is sure to please old and new Biffy fans alike.
One thing that’s great about the record is every song is good. There’s not a single one you’ll want to skip. What I really found enjoyable about the album are all the different styles and sounds found on all the tracks. Biffy usually isn’t shy about shaking things up in terms of music, but they are absolutely fearless on this collection. While “Euphoria” is pure raw anger and intensity during the entire song, it begins with little phases of synth that remind you of stars twinkling. That same synth comes back and is the basis of the music on “A Tragic World Record.” This track also seems to take more influence from pop music as it’s really upbeat and playful.
They go for a folk vibe on “Break a Butterfly on a Wheel” with a soft, mellow, and melodic acoustic guitar playing during the verses. When the chorus comes on the music gets grittier taking on more of their established rock sound, but it never really loses the mood the previous riff set up. “Milky” starts off with an ominous riff that seems to be inspired by Southern rock. Eventually the music gets bouncy and drowned in distortion making for an energetic tune. “Wooden Souvenir” has more of a punk influence with its frantic riffs and chaotic vibe. The music is so heavy and aggressive it sounds like it’s on the verge of a breakdown. The vibe of the track is reminiscent of the earlier work.
While all of the songs are great, there are few that manage to stand out from the others. “City of Dreadful Night” is awesome because it has this fast, shuffling music that catches your attention when it starts. It’s one of those tracks where you stop what you’re doing when you hear it. What makes it so notable is how often the tone and pace of the music changes in just four minutes. The music gets slower and slower as the song continues until it creates this calm comforting mood the listener gets lost in. Before the listener can drift off in a haze, the music gets bouncy and upbeat turning it into something to dance to. The shifts are unexpected, yet are impressive.
“Fingers and Toes” stands out for its weird and witty lyrics. The opening line of “Ladies ask why I have/your fingers and toes” paints the oddest and somewhat creepiest image. It could be a metaphor or he could literally be hoarding fingers and toes. Note: The line is actually “Ladies ask why I’ve got/no fingers and toes.” It’s a reference to their track “Woo Woo.” Thanks ceadaghoferrall for the correction. I still find the line interesting and unnerving. The image is kind of gruesome. It’s lines like this that show why Simon Neil is a talented and interesting songwriter. Another great line from the track is “Don’t stop breaking my heart/so I can sing about it.” It presents the issue of manipulation in relationships in a whole new way. On “Thundermonster” the one line that really stands out here is “All we need is a wrecking ball with/shredded glass.” I’m not really sure why I like it so much; I just do. Also, the way the music grows more intense at the end could be viewed as the thunder in the song. Whether or not it’s intentional it’s a cool effect.
Overall, the album gets 8.5/10. Like I said before there isn’t a single bad song on the LP; all of them are enjoyable. Biffy expands their sound and experiments with different styles on some of the songs and on others they just plain kick ass. I actually liked this album better than Opposites. It’s great the band has such a knack for awesome and catchy b-sides, especially since a lot of artists don’t even bother with the practice. Whether you’re just getting into the band or are a long time fan, this release is a must have.