For Biffy Clyro’s seventh studio album, the title Opposites is not an entirely appropriate one. While the first half: The Sand at the Core of Our Bones looks inward and the second half: The Land at the End of Our Toes looks forward, both halves cannot be viewed as separate entities, but rather they rely on each other to paint a picture of the band’s past and future hopes and fears. Listening to Opposites is an experience where talented Scottish guitarist/vocalist Simon Neil, bassist James Johnson and drummer Ben Johnson inject you with rousing choruses, infectious guitar riffs, surprising experimentation and ingenious lyrics.
Opening track ‘Different People’ feels like the band are opening the door to their own personal therapy session, portraying themselves as lost souls with desperate lyrics and furious guitar. Single ‘Black Chandelier’ follows in similar tones of madness, containing an unnerving chant of “Drip, drip” and the line “Cute little cup of cyanide” the song succeeds in creating several disturbing minutes. Whereas ‘Sounds like Balloons’ strays into the bizarre, showcasing an excellent little riff and a chorus that’s irresistible not to sing along to. After the furious hits of the first three songs, ‘Opposite’ serves as a mournful balm to Biffy’s wounds, including a gentle violin accompaniment which works beautifully. ‘Bibilical’ seems to tread new ground, featuring an incredible chorus which arguably strays into the realms of heavy bass with the use of procession and punching vocals. In contrast, ‘A Girl And His Cat’, doesn’t stand out nearly as much, and perhaps a better serving of Biffy being fantastically weird is the apocalyptic comedy ‘Little Hospitals’, best summed up by the line “I’ll turn your baby into lemonade”. The first disc ends on a softer note however, with the soothing romantic vocals of the ‘The Thaw’, lines such as “Tonight were going to share the same space” revealing a far more compassionate side to the trio.
The second disc is announced by the twisted fanfare of ‘Stingin’ Belle’, a merciless anthem that turns out to be a unique pleasure in a blend of bagpipes and lyrics like “Think you’re cool/like a porcupine”, which instantly brought an indulgent smile to my face. An upbeat and optimistic mood is established and upheld by the trumpet backed ‘Spanish Radio’, frantic guitar and vocals in ‘Victory Over The Sun’ and the feel-good aura infused in ‘Pocket’. And yet it’s the last few songs of the album which reflect the true message Biffy Clyro are trying to put across, in ‘Skylight’ Simon promises listeners that “I know where we’re going from here”, and both ‘Woo Woo’ and ‘Picture A Knife Fight’ round this 20 track epic off in a triumphant finale, promising to make an amazing live performance. Even after the huge success of Only Revolutions in 2009, Biffy Clyro haven’t cracked under the expectation of undertaking such a massive task and this strain on their relationship hasn’t ruined them.
Opposites is essentially the essence of who Biffy Clyro are as a band laid out on two inter-twined plates, it’s bravery is admirable and the result is astounding.