Seventh record and still going strong, this isn’t Biffy at their best, but there’s still plenty to admire.
Biffy Clyro is not like other bands. Most would settle at a sound by the time album seven comes around, if it even comes around at all. But not Biffy Clyro; the Scottish trio has become, and rightly so, one of Britain’s biggest rock outfits, and they’re still proving a point with their new material.
It would have been easy for Ellipsis to follow the same formula as 2013’s Opposites, the band’s first and only previous number one album. In many ways it does, yet it still feels different and new, and that’s obvious from start with the absolutely humungous ‘Wolves Of Winter,’ an anthem only Biffy Clyro could deliver. Just imagine this during the band’s headline slots at Reading and Leeds later in the summer.
‘Friends & Enemies’ is a step in the pop direction, although it’s not a bad song, ‘Animal Style’ is frantic and classic Biffy, and ‘Re-arrange’ is, deliberately or not, almost Owl City-like in parts.
It’s almost confusing at times, but things have never been simple with Biffy Clyro. Their breakthrough was 2007’s Puzzle, their fourth LP. They have provided an X Factor winners’ single in the form of ‘Many Of Horror.’ Frontman Simon Neil is married to an English teacher; how rock ’n’ roll. The band’s members have regularly opened up about their struggles, and with this album there was focus on Neil’s mental health. Perhaps that is what is different about Biffy Clyro.
Their lyrics are raw, real, and sometimes hard-hitting. That has always been the case and it is no different on Ellipsis. ‘Medicine’ feels familiar (easily comparable to ‘Machines’ from Puzzle) but it’s a real highlight of the record, not because it is void of the big guitars, but because it’s just Neil and his acoustic singing about his life and his problems.
And when those big guitars do it hit, such as during ‘On A Bang,’ it feels safe and almost homely, which is why you can understand the reasoning behind trying something different, from those poppy moments such as ‘Re-arrange’ to ‘Small Wishes,’ which is just a strange attempt at folk which feels very out of place, especially following on from the mammoth ‘On A Bang.’
In parts, having seven albums is both a blessing and a curse. There is a sense on Ellipsis that the band feels it has to try something different, and whilst in parts it does pay off, at times it does feel a tad disjointed. It’s not as good as some previous outings but taking nothing away from it, this is still a great album.
Biffy Clyro is a band to go to war to, and they’re a band to mourn the losses after. There’s not many quite like them, which why we should treasure both them and Ellipsis.
Ellipsis is out now via 14th Floor