Sunday, February 17, 2013

Opposites attract

album review

Biffy Clyro’s sixth album, Opposites, features the same familiar vibe which has made the band so popular

Band: Biffy Clyro
Album: Opposites

Since starting out as a prog-flavoured post-hardcore outfit, Scottish trio Biffy Clyro have polished their sound and created a brand of melodic rock that has brought them mainstream success. Their standout fourth album Puzzle (2007) may have disappointed some of the fans of their earlier albums, but it also helped the band capture a bigger audience with more straightforward tunes and less experimentation than their previous efforts, a trend that further continued on its follow up Only Revolutions (2009).

The band now returns with their sixth studio record, Opposites, a double album that sees the group put together twenty well-constructed tracks, split evenly into two parts: the grim first disc The Sand at the Core of Our Bones and the somewhat more hopeful second disc The Land at the End of Our Toes. Adorned with Storm Thorgerson's striking cover art (a depiction of the world's oldest living tree), the new set is helmed by Garth Richardson, who also produced Biffy Clyro's last two albums, and, quite understandably, continues down the same road that was taken by its most recent predecessors.

On Opposites, the group offers another set of sleek, polished arena anthems without completely losing their idiosyncratic touches, although they do primarily stick to the sound that has made them big over the last few years. The instrumentation is tight and well executed. Simon Neil has a fascinating way of expressing his emotions and feelings, and it is always interesting to ponder his words and unravel his thoughts, and the songs on Opposites are no exception.

The Sand at the Core of Our Bones opens with the dynamic 'Different People' which builds to an anthemic chorus (as do many tracks on offer here), and then gives way to the brilliant first single 'Black Chandelier', the catchy 'Sounds like Balloons', 'Biblical' and 'A Girl and His Cat', the Foo Fighters-esque 'Little Hospitals', and the moody 'The Fog' which haunts with its beautiful melody. The Land at the End of Our Toes, the half of the album that is probably easier to gravitate towards, hosts 'Pocket', which is perhaps the brightest melody on the set, and the bagpipes on 'Stingin' Belle' and the mariachi band on 'Spanish Radio' provide those quirky touches that keep the proceedings from becoming monotonous. And by the time 'Picture a Knife Fight' closes the album, you might want to join the throngs to get in line for tickets for Biffy's next live show.

Opposites isn't exactly a very adventurous record, and despite being a double album, it generally keeps things short and swift, with most of the songs clocking in at less than four minutes apiece. Despite its twenty tracks, the album does not feel overlong or excessively bloated, and once you give it a few listens and the character of each song becomes more apparent, you will get a chance to appreciate each track that is a part of the set. This isn't the record for those who wanted Biffy Clyro to go back to the music of their first three releases were hoping for. It will, instead, sit better with those who fell for the group when Puzzle came out. Overall, Opposites is a cohesive, well constructed record, that displays the abilities of a skilled band that may have smoothed its edges but hasn't lost its emotiveness and emotional resonance.

- By Sameen Amer

Instep, The News on Sunday - 17th February, 2013

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