posted on November 13, 2009 18:00
A review of the album 'Only Revolutions' by Biffy Clyro
Review Snapshot: The Ayrshire trio Biffy Clyro return with an album filled with explosive riffs and lyrical genius, featuring Josh Homme and a surprisingly suitable string section. It has all of the incredible hallmarks of a band headed for arenas, but still maintains some of the 'underdog' traits that originally made Biffy Clyro alluring in the first place.
The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10
'Only Revolutions' is... interesting. The album title was taken from a novel of the same name by Mark Danielewski, which requires you to flip the book upside down frequently to read two different narratives usually on the same page. Just from this detail it's easy to see why 'Only Revolutions' is a suitable title for Biffy Clyro's latest release, at times it feels as though you're cascading through a variety of unrelated songs which somehow have a consistency.
'Bubbles' features Josh Homme's legendary guitar skills, his input on this track is exceptional and in no way detracts from the rest of the song. Instead of being 'Josh Homme's moment on the album' it's a clear collaboration between him and the band, making it set for arena-filling status.
I previously mentioned that 'Only Revolutions' is a fitting title for this album, 'Born On A Horse' is proof of this. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it wasn't a Biffy Clyro song as it's free from heavy guitars and crashing drum beats. It's more relaxed and slightly, well, funky. That said, it still is a key track on the album. By no means is it an assault on your ears, it's actually unexpectedly suited to Biffy Clyro. Much to their credit, there aren't many bands that can (successfully) be that versatile. Rest assured, the last chorus sees a return to the anarchic Biffy we know and love.
'Shock Shock' begins with vocalist and guitarist Simon Neil's usually dark but engaging lyrics:
"Well you scratch and you scratch
'til your face comes away
Replaced by a hole,
A vortex just waiting to play"
It's reminiscent of early Biffy Clyro, and probably wouldn't go amiss on their 2002 debut 'Blackened Sky'. It has all of the chief characteristics that define Biffy Clyro (angsty, loud, affecting..) but doesn't seem far removed from the rest of 'Only Revolutions'.
The creatively titled closing track 'Whorses' leaves listeners in no doubt as to why Biffy Clyro are becoming so successful. It's Biffy at it's finest, with pertinent drum rolls and jagged guitars accompanying Neil's wavering lyrics, "I don't want to be alone again... I don't want to be born again."
Truthfully, I wasn't expecting Biffy Clyro's follow-up to their previous album 'Puzzle' to be particularly good. I suspected it would either be a rehash of 'Puzzle' or a bad shot in the dark at genre switching. Happily, I've been proven wrong. This album is just as excellent as 'Puzzle', if not even more so. Take note - this is how to successfully return after a critically acclaimed album, and prove that you deserved all of the reverence you received.