Everyone’s favourite hairy Scottish man band, Biffy Clyro, returned on Friday with their latest record, Ellipsis. Hype for the album started building with the release of their first single, Wolves Of Winter, an anthemic track which will certainly fill stadiums and festivals with energy – I absolutely loved it from the first listen. If you haven’t heard it, you can watch the official music video here:
Wolves Of Winter was followed by Animal Style, a more quirky track with an undulating melody and punchy chorus. It took a couple of listens for the second Ellipsis single to grow on me, but now I’m a big fan. One thing is for certain: Animal Style demonstrated that Biffy Clyro haven’t created a predictable follow-on from their previous album Opposites, and I’m expecting to be challenged and surprised by their latest effort.
On to the album itself: following Wolves Of Winter, which was an excellent choice of album opener, second track Friends And Enemies changes the pace. It features a slightly slower tempo, electronic drums and claps, and feminine chants and backing vocals to change the atmosphere from aggressive and defiant to more peaceful and reflective. There are quite a few shifts like this between tracks, meaning you’re never quite sure where the album is going next: I’m definitely a fan of Ellipsis’s unpredictability.
Biffy Clyro are well known for their acoustic ballads as well as powerful anthems. Following Machines, God And Satan and Opposites, their latest addition to their emotional arsenal is Medicine. It’s a very powerful track, with Simon singing very bluntly about his struggle with depression, and the melancholy chorus really tugs at the heartstrings. Well, my heartstrings anyway, maybe I’m just a big ol’ softy.
Medicine is quickly followed by Flammable, a riff-heavy track with a lot of attitude, and the quick-fire grungy sounding number, On A Bang, which almost sounds like the big brother of Opposites album track Modern Magic Formula. Even though I started listening to Ellipsis expecting the unexpected, the country twang of Small Wishes caught me by surprise, and to be honest it feels a little out of place.
I’d be very interested to hear some of the album’s slower tracks, such as Re-arrange, performed live. Biffy Clyro are well known for performing without any bells and whistles and putting a raw, low-fi spin on their more heavily produced tracks. There are quite a few electronic elements throughout Ellipsis, which would come as no surprise to fans of Opposites, so hearing these tracks performed simply by Simon, James and Ben would provide an interesting contrast.
To conclude, although some listeners will consider Ellipsis daring and unpredictable, others will describe it as directionless and confused. My opinion falls under the former; maybe that’s because I’m a die-hard Biffy Clyro fan and have been for many years, but I genuinely think that their latest album is explosive. The Scottish threesome (fnar fnar) have been able to produce intense proggy rock, whilst headlining festivals and topping the popular music charts. Biffy Clyro are a band that have it all, and I hope their quest to push boundaries and produce more incredible music continues for a long time to come.
Highlights: Wolves Of Winter, Herex, Medicine, Flammable, In The Name Of The Wee Man