Biffy Clyro’s last album, ‘Puzzle’, was always going to be a hard act to follow...
Biffy Clyro’s last album, ‘Puzzle’, was always going to be a hard act to follow. It was deservedly recognised as a brilliant record that established the Scottish trio as one of the major forces in UK rock.
‘Only Revolutions’ is a very different album, but it’s equally fantastic. Where ‘Puzzle’ was a full-length that detailed frontman Simon Neil’s despair following the death of his mother, ‘Only Revolutions’ is more lyrically focused on his relationship with his wife, whom he married between the release of the records.
“It felt like my life wouldn’t be complete without her,” he tells Rock Sound. “We’re both very fiery people… I think a lot of this record is about the ups and downs we’ve had.”
It starts in an impressively outlandish fashion with latest single ‘The Captain’, in which the sound of a military march gives way to a massive, horn-augmented outburst. It’s a wonderfully crafted song that sets out the stall for what’s to follow. Drummer Ben Johnston previously described the sound of this album as being “classic Biffy”, a fitting reference. ‘Only Revolutions’ is in many ways redolent of the melodic appeal of the band’s 02 debut, ‘Blackened Sky’.
They’ve developed so much since then, though. Second track ‘That Golden Rule’ is a remarkably well-achieved song that blends its punkish intent with assured musicianship, bolstered by string sections under the stewardship of David Campbell, who conducts orchestral elements throughout the album in a fashion that’s never unnecessarily flashy.
‘Only Revolutions’ is, once again, an impressively produced album; Biffy’s collaboration with Garth Richardson (who produced ‘Puzzle’) in tracks like the gloriously urgent, emphatically melodic ‘Boom, Blast & Ruin’ exemplifies just what can be achieved when making a mainstream rock record with solid financial support. They’ve not compromised; they definitely haven’t sold out. It’s an ambitious record, an album in which they take risks, all of which pay off.
There’s not a single bad track on ‘Only Revolutions’. Biffy used to attract a cult following before ‘Puzzle’, and it takes only a cursory scan of the internet to discover that fans who so enjoyed songs such as ‘57’ and ‘Justboy’ find the likes of radio-friendly hits such as ‘Mountains’ somewhat unpalatable. It seems strange, though; it’s a great song, and Biffy have, without doubt, improved as a band. It should surely be a joy to hear their music played on mainstream radio.
‘Only Revolutions’ perfectly juxtaposes moods; beautifully serene songs such as ‘God & Satan’, ‘Know Your Quarry’ and ‘Many Of Horror’, for example, provide an ebb and flow that balances delicacy with the balls-out aggression of ‘Cloud Of Stink’ and the ace closer that is ‘Whorses’, a song in which they achieve a dark melodic sensibility that betters anything featured on one of Neil’s favourite records, Weezer’s ‘Pinkerton’.
“We want to effect a change,” the singer declares, and they certainly have.
‘Only Revolutions’ is a dramatic, stylish album awash with ideas and a class that belongs entirely to Biffy Clyro.