Friday 3 December 2010

Happiness is an Illusion

Why Biffy?  Is a question no one ever asks.  But I'm going to answer it anyway.

Tomorrow night's post, already written, will explain some of the 'now' and some of the 'beginnings' of my devotion but it doesn't really capture the essence of it.  Not fully.

I'd been a big fan of that American Grunge ethic of the early nineties, shit, I'd embraced it pretty fully if the truth must be know.  I was a rubbish student, but fuck, I was a great slacker.  But at the turn of the last century I was married, just, and I had a relatively sensible job in London.  Within three years I was separated, living in a house on my own in Southampton, drinking way too much but had an even more sensible job.  I was going out quite a lot, spending money I didn't have and listening to a lot of music.  Somehow, I still have no idea how I paid for it, I had Sky, which led to music channels, which in turn led to MTV2 (at the time almost half decent) and this, in turn, led to a shit load of new bands.  Proper bands that were making proper invigorating music that either reflected my own emotions or gave me something to scream along to in as primal away as I could muster.  

I listened to the first Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album a couple of weeks ago, after hearing something I thought I recognised by them in Misfits.  I was right and the album was awash with memories.  Other bands like Rival Schools came and went (one of their songs still sits comfortably in my top ten of all time) but as you'll learn tomorrow, one song by Biffy Clyro, which was getting played pretty irregularly, stuck.  Not as one of the greatest songs I've ever heard but as a prelude really of what was to come.  I bought the album and loved it, but wouldn't say it changed anything.  Sure, I became a fan, saw them support someone in Portsmouth and bought the third album when it came out.  I liked that too and listened to both albums off and on, and slowly but surely they became regulars on the iPod.

Then on the 5th March 2007 they released Saturday Superhouse and everything changed.  I was in a state of flux at the time.  The weird half light of being part in and part out of a relationship while still dealing emotionally with the previous cluster fuck.  Totally and unremittingly dulling to the senses.  But here was a band, a band I thought a lot of, making a proper rock tune.  Their weirdness reigned back and just going for it.  The album that followed it, Puzzle, took me in hand and said, 'Fuck all that shit son, sort your head out.'  It doesn't actually have that line in it.  Obviously.  But it was part of my recovery.  Part of starting to feel myself treading water instead of flailing about like a Muppet with a fake drum kit.  The music thing comes from my Dad and even though I don't believe in any of that life after death bullshit, when I find something special it always ties back to him somehow.  Ridiculous.  But probably human nature to feel that.

Puzzle is probably my favourite album ever.  It shouldn't be really.  Not at 37.  It's music for kids twenty years younger than me, but I don't give a fuck about that sort of thing and never will.  It's music that carries me back I think.  Because it traverses all the stuff I love in music.  Angst, intimacy, anger and dissappointment.

The strange thing about Biffy is that their first album, which I only got around to listening to between Puzzle and their latest album, is pretty close to the same sound.  I love the weirdness of albums two and three but it's the rawness of the first and the polished rawness of the fourth that I admire and connect with the most.

So Puzzle came along at the right time, Machines delivered the killer lines, that I know like a poem I can recite at will and Biffy have played their part in restoring something that got lost nearly ten years ago.  That song is never far from my head.  But, and I think I've talked about this before, so won't bang on about it, Now I'm Everyone has one moment of joyful noise that never fails to make me smile.  What got lost?  Fucked if I know.  Maybe I'd never had it in the first place, but when I listen to that song, that moment at 2:42, fills my gut and reverberates through me like nothing else.  Endorphins flow.  Not many bands have that effect these days.

Only Revolutions, record five, is a great album.  It just, for me (and I'm well aware this is contentious for some) doesn't touch Puzzle.  Maybe that's about when I found it.  Maybe it just isn't as good.  It still has some amazing songs on it, Bubbles, Many of Horror, That Golden Rule and the epic and wonderful Mountains but it's not got the potency of it's predecessor.  Live those songs and the others from the album rediscover all that, as if Biffy held back on the recording.  For the record they just don't touch me emotionally in the same way.  Apart from Mountains.

Mountains actually straddled the two albums, released ages before Only Revolutions and I know, for more than a few, it's their favourite Biffy song.  And it's easy to see why.  That piano start and gentle words that surely make no sense.  It's about relationships, about how they fail and about how they recover.  But the chorus is not about that, at least not until the end of the song when the words change.  It's a bellow from the depths of a man's soul, about standing tall despite it all.  It's the one song on Only Revolutions that I can relate to fully without needing to know all the detail of the lyrics.  By the end of the song Simon has found his Mountain.  I ain't there yet, but that's cool, if a man that can dye his beard blonde has a Mountain, there's hope for us all.

You're probably getting more of me in this post than I intended, but like I said last night I've felt like the change of the month has been a gear change.  Tomorrow night at Wembley Arena will be another.  After that, who knows, but for the first time in as long as I can remember I feel like the world is my oyster and I can take the cuts and bruises along the way.

That's a pretty fucking rare feeling for me.  Happiness is an illusion.  Strength isn't.

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