Biffy Clyro have always been a band with two distinct personalities. From the grunge, metal and math-rock of their early albums, to the radio-friendly anthemia of their later releases, they’ve never been afraid to explore and toy with dynamics, often exhibiting both sides of themselves across the same record, if not the same song.
‘A Celebration Of Endings’, the band’s eighth album proper, is no exception. Though if its lead single ‘Instant History’ was anything to go by, one would be forgiven for thinking the Scottish trio had chosen to go down the Bring Me The Horizon/Deaf Havana route of radio-ready electronic rock.
Thankfully however, there’s more on offer across the course of the record’s 11 tracks, none of it seeming like a cynical chart bid. ‘Tiny Indoor Fireworks’ is an another obvious single choice, anthemic and poppy without ever feeling contrived, it’s an aesthetic that Biffy do well, but it’s just one of several on offer across what proves to be their most multi-faceted record to date. Coming at the record’s halfway point, ‘Space’ is something of a centrepiece and provides the record with its obligatory Biffy Clyro ballad moment. Take that as you will, but as far its inherent optimism and irresistible waves of strings are difficult to ignore.
It isn’t the record’s only flirtation with strings or even orchestral elements. ‘The Champ’ provides another occasion and gives the album some early weight also. Indeed, far from a record hinged on soft rock balladry and poppy production, ‘Space’ gives way to the driving and angular ‘End Of’, a track that will appeal to those who prefer the band’s more riff heavy moments.
Perhaps the record’s biggest surprise come at its close. ‘Cop Syrup’ is six minutes of jarring and abrasive grunge that at times could be PIXIES at their most unhinged. “I’ve been saved from the darkest place / I’ve embraced the need to live” frontman Simon Neil exclaims through its chorus before a cinematic and orchestral breakdown is torn to pieces by the track’s explosive conclusion. Unpredictable it may be. Biffy Clyro it definitely is, and its uplifting and optimism hook the perfect catharsis for a year that’s been nothing short of terrible.
It’s good to have Biffy back.
Words: Dave Beech
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