Biffy Clyro have been my musical comfort blanket for a decade now. They are the band I return to when I’ve put reviews to bed and have nothing new to listen to, and the band I turn to on the odd occasion I pick up my guitar to hammer out some tunes in anger. So it was a true delight having the new double album ‘Opposites‘ to review. The wait for new material has been far too long…..
Double albums are always a tricky animal to tame. Often the problem stems with the very notion of attempting one….a surefire signal that the band in question is in danger of disappearing up their own arses….furthermore they will guarantee a cavalcade of pompous music journalists lining up to knock you off your perch lamenting over the clichéd use of the double disc approach and the use once again of famed sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson for the cover.
Any band that developed a hardcore following for a couple of albums before hitting the big time will always have those that moan that they’re not making music how they used to. Two prime examples of this would be Kings Of Leon and Incubus. Bands that have developed over time and so has their ‘sound’. Now Biffy suffered the same fate with the major label releases of Puzzle, and Only Revolutions. Some lambasting the band for selling out and starting to sound like the Foo Fighters. What these detractors fail to realise is that it would be impossible for a band that grows up together to keep writing the same stuff. You get older, your views on the world change, you shed some of that teenage angst, in some cases you might go the other way….my point is that what and how you write won’t stay the same. I can appreciate each Biffy album for its own merits, however my favourite still would be Blackened Sky or The Vertigo of Bliss.
Biffy could have steered themselves out of these troubled waters by releasing a single disc of 15 tracks and having 5 great tracks to add to the singles that are to be forthcoming (Ok they have also released a 14 track version alongside the double album, but who’s going to buy that with the full 20 on offer?). This has never been their way, not conforming to any given medium is what makes them great, and in true Biffy fashion, they’ve laughed in the face of danger and pulled out a double album of immense proportions. The opposing content the album title alludes to deals with the lyrical content rather than the musical, as some rather weary and slightly misconstrued reviews already published have totally missed. As a body of work there is a nice continuity between the 2 discs which eases listeners into such a task as familiarising themselves with a larger than usual release.
There’s riff’s aplenty, beautiful harmonies, heavy drop c moments, ballads and Neil’s trademark unfathomable hooks. Time signatures are toyed with, although not as much as one would hope, but still the ingenuity and honesty is on the surface at all times.
With ‘Opposites’ Biffy have embarked on a tour de force of their back catalogue, cleverly doffing their caps to every album and style. The work is a melting pot of their past guises and like the GoBots combines to form a monolithic version of their former selves. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close. If I was introducing someone to Biffy for the first time I probably wouldn’t start with this one, but it is a welcome buffet for the army of fans they already have.
It’s certainly written with one eye on all those huge arenas they will be playing over the course of this album tour. Dare I suggest stadiums at this point? I don’t think they’re far off being able to step up to the next level of gigs….2014 Wembley? You heard it here first
In summary I’ve got three words for you…..Mon the Biff!