Monday 9 November 2009

Biffy Clyro - Only Revolutions Review

Album five then. After all the expectation and excitement, following seeing them live two weeks ago, I guess it was always going to be hard for 'Only Revolutions' to live up to being as good as I'd hoped it would be.

Don't get me wrong I'm loving it. It's a great album, it just isn't as poky as its predecessor. 'Puzzle' felt like an album that was held together by an intangible theme where as this feels like a collection of unrelated songs. The fact that 'Mountains' is here, a song from last summer, is a testament to that, great though it is.

I've been listening to Biffy's first album a lot on the lead up to 'Only Revolutions' and what strikes me is how much more polished this album is, all of Biffy's delightful ruff edges have been smoothed out, but is that for the better? Depends on where you sit I guess.

However, despite these misgivings, it's still an album that shines above so much dross. Biffy Clyro have been given time to mature by their fanbase and a lack of overnight success. And this is their most 'mature' album thus far.

Album opener is the recent single 'The Captain' a romp of a sing-along rock song, swiftly followed by 'That Golden Rule' the stunning earlier release that really whetted our appetites for the long player. Next up is 'Bubble' that chimes along like a 'Vampire Weekend' track until it drops into a classic Biffy Clyro chorus.

You are creating all the bubbles at night
I'm chasing round trying to pop them all the time
We don't need to trust a single word they say
You are creating all the bubbles at play

Brilliant. And completely Biffy at their most weird.

'God & Satan' is destined to be a show closer, it's already superb live. Classic slow Biffy, full of angst and questioning lyrics, and a beautiful arrangement. Slow build on the bass and drums, a wonderfully crafted modern rock song. Buy the album for it alone. 'Born on a Horse' is probably the most experimental track all weird pulsing bass sound and lyrics about Simon's girlfriend being a horse... honest. Good song though rescued from not being great by suddenly breaking into an old school monstrous guitar solo towards the end. 'Mountains' follows, and if you don't like 'Mountains', well to be honest, your probably not reading this.

'Shock Shock' is one of the three genuinely harder edged new tracks, but just feels like a bit of a pacifier, maybe a bit 'filler'. There's the customary bit of Biffy swearing, but it's very Idlewild in sound. Idlewild before they lost their edge and went all 'Snow Patrol' and crap on us. There's still that glimmer of Biffy towards the end when what sounds like a trumpet suddenly chimes in out of no where with seconds to spare.

'Many of Horror' is the best track here. A sequel of sorts to 'Machines' from 'Puzzle'. A gorgeous love song full of ache and sadness.

I'll take a bruise, i know you're worth it
When you hit me, hit me hard.

Essential Biffy Clyro, and the song stands out as the one that must be released next as a single. This would get played to death on the radio, when the strings come in at the end you wanna hear it again, immediately.

'Boooom, Blast Ruin' is the second of the newer heavier tracks, although I still miss Simon screaming, it's another cracking song but of all the tracks it's probably the most likely to get over looked by the fans and the noobs alike. Which is a pity because after scraping beneath the sheen, there is a great anthem here.

Of the heavier tracks 'Cloud of Stink' is my favourite. This sounds more like the quiet/loud Biffy of a few albums back and it races along at a proper pace and we get the closest we come to a wail from Simon.

'Know Your Quarry' is another slower track, that does that classic Biffy build and build thing until the hairs are tingling and you're singing along on your first listen. Awesome song.

Closer 'Whorses' is driven by a drum track and an uplifting lyric. The song gets more and more hectic as it goes on until it drops into an almost choir like refrain and then explodes for its final burst and ends in a squall of feedback.

So it's good then?

Yes it is. Very. But it's not as good as 'Puzzle'. It just lacks the same coherence of their previous release and there's a step back from trying to burst eardrums and terrify the neighbours into a vaguely worrying mainstream vein. There was something serious about 'Puzzle', a statement of intent that 'Only Revolutions' lacks. There's a couple of tracks that don't sound as essential as they might and there's none of that wrestling with a song to find the tune and miss steps of timing that have made Biffy such a cult band.

If your a fan of Biffy, you'll love it, but wish they sounded like they do live on record. If you're new to Biffy, buy 'Puzzle' and then buy this.


Rip: Many of Horror, God & Satan, That Golden Rule, Know Your Quarry.

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