Album Review: Biffy Clyro – ‘Opposites’

If you were told to imagine a rock band, in terms of appearance, live performance and discography, then the idea you have would not be too far off Biffy Clyro. The release of Only Revolutions, their last album was a mainstream success, they were moving into a more anthemic style and away from the gritty Puzzles. With this new release Biffy Clyro have gone back to their routes by providing raw ‘Saturday Superhouse’ tracks intertwined with the big stadium-esque songs, because as lead singer Simon Neil said “music still matters to people”.

The twenty tracks on Opposites began as forty five, the problems within the band had provided a mass of inspiration and even whilst recording the album they had doubts whether it could be created and whether the band would even continue. The first disc subtitled ‘The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones’ is all about these hurdles they have had to overcome including drummer Ben’s drinking which at times threatened to end their journey. It really is like poetry put to the sound of overdriven guitars, and the lyrics shine through, as if everything else is put in the background. “Please believe in me like I believe in you” emulates the torment and the lyrics later on of “you can build a house not a home” show how Biffy Clyro were nearing the end “it will always stand on shakey grounds”. The blend of raw and polished is evident, ‘Biblical’ and ‘Little Hospitals’ are two songs that are made for the festival season, they have an edge that was perhaps missed on Only Revolutions.

However, similar to the latter, the opener ‘Different People’ or even ‘Black Chandelier’ sound like they have been created to perform to a sold out Wembley Arena or M.E.N.  There are occasional lapses though on this first disc where it really does feel that the vocals were deemed more important than all other instruments, this can be seen in the chorus of ‘A Girl And His Cat’. Similarly ‘Fog’ doesn’t add anything to the album, it is the token slow track that they felt they needed. However when we think of Biffy Clyro slowing down the tempo, immediately it’s the thought of ‘Machines’, where the powerful lyrics and carefully constructed use of violins makes it powerful and has the ability to not only make fans cry but Neil himself. A remorseful feel to the first half of this album, yet has the grit that fans of Puzzle have been waiting for.

The second half of the album entitled ‘The Land At The End Of Our Toes’ aptly portraying the possibilities amongst these very talented musicians starts in a big way. The opening track ‘Stingin’ Belle’ is heavy, Biffy Clyro are making a statement here, and it works very well. They want to smash through the first CD which depicts the woeful few years gone by, and replace it with style. What I like the most about the second half of this album is the confident nature, because unlike the first where lyrically it was dark, in ‘The Land At The End Of Our Toes’ we get optimism and positivity. This doesn’t mean that all of a sudden we are immersed in a collection of clichés that would be more appropriate on a One Direction obsessed teenage girls Tumblr.

No, once more we get hit after hit of clever writing, and we also get a greater quality of riff which ‘The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones’ was missing. “I’d rather kiss the ground then kiss a starless sky” is  the most poignant lyric out of them all, and is just another element of quality on Opposites. The second disc is more complete than the first, songs such as ‘Trumpet or Tap’, ‘Skylight’ and ‘Victory Over The Sun’ run on from one another. Neither ‘The Land At The End Of Our Toes’ or ‘The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones’ is a complete album in its own right, however listening back to back is a triumph. Biffy Clyro have really achieved something great here. A risky strategy, but one that has paid off.

Daniel Jones

Daniel is listening to The 1975 – ‘Chocolate’

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3 Comments on this post.
  • Dale
    28 January 2013 at 18:48
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    You do know that biffy had three albums out before puzzle right?

  • Rich Timbrell
    28 January 2013 at 22:42
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    Fair play mate, this is a very accurate review. The guardian and independent are talking crap. You seem to understand the point of Biffy producing this double CD. Not many other reviews I’ve read seem to get the idea that they wrote it to express the troubles they’ve overcome as friends in the first CD and the future of the band on the second CD.

  • D Jones
    6 February 2013 at 14:23
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    Yer I do though Puzzle was their ‘breakthrough album’

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