ALBUM REVIEW: Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis
Biffy Clyro have been through a lot in the last few years. 2013’s Opposites cemented their place as one of the biggest and best bands in the world, and yet they came out jaded and struggling to deal with their place at the summit of the rock mountain. After taking a year out, the Scottish trio rallied themselves in LA to produce Ellipsis, the opening of a new chapter filled with a renewed sense of confidence and self-belief.
The band have said that they deliberately tried to be a bit more exploratory with production techniques on this record, and wanted to “use the studio as instrument” more than they ever have before. Under producer Rich Costey‘s guidance, they’ve certainly done that: there are synths and keyboard effects (Friends And Enemies, Herex), processed drums and handclaps (Re-Arrange), and there are effects on Simon‘s lead vocals in pretty much every track. There’s plenty of variety in the songs too, with Simon going as far as to call it, tongue firmly in his cheek, “Now That’s What I Call Biffy Clyro!” Most of their gambles come off, but as with any experiment there’s always something that doesn’t – we can say for certain after hearing Small Wishes that country music is something that they should avoid in future.
The best moments on Ellipsis come when the Scots stick to what they know best. Opening tracks Wolves Of Winter and Friends And Enemies are both big, ballsy battle cries, hitting back at just about everyone who’s ever doubted or wronged them, everyone who “gave us armbands made of concrete”, and throwing it right back at them: “We have achieved so much more than you possibly thought we could!”
On A Bang is a throwback to the early days, all abrasive vocals and angular, math-rock rhythms, and is our bet to become a firm fan favourite. The other highlight is Medicine, one of two acoustic tracks on the record. But where Re-Arrange, an open love letter from Simon to his wife, is almost sickly sweet, Medicine has a darker edge, playing off lyrics about a broken relationship against images of drug or alcohol abuse to the point where they blur together and “I shouldn’t waste my time having you around” could refer to either, or both.
While that lyrical darkness is something we’ve almost come to expect from Biffy, Simon has talked candidly about how he managed to come to terms with his depression after struggling during the songwriting process for Ellipsis, and closing track People lays that all bare: “All of our sadness provides us a home / I said I’m gonna make you, completely reshape you / Make you my own.” Overall, it’s that sense of being able to overcome your problems that is the major theme on this album, and brings you right back full circle to Wolves Of Winter‘s assertion that “you can achieve anything, just remember, no I in team.”
That’s what Biffy Clyro want you to know with this album: that they are back, stronger than ever, and nothing is going to hold them down.
Standout Tracks: Wolves Of Winter, Friends And Enemies, Medicine
For Fans Of: Twin Atlantic, Reuben
Written by: Josh Prentice