Release Date: Mar 12, 2013
Record label: Warner Bros./Reprise
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
On the back of 10 years of extensive touring and two consecutive U.K. platinum albums, Biffy Clyro has managed to reach a point of near-ubiquity on the eastern side of the Atlantic. The trio of Simon Neil and brothers James and Ben Johnston has chosen to follow the success of 2009’s Only Revolutions by embracing that most audacious of genre conventions, the double album, with Opposites.
Biffy Clyro's 2013 album, Opposites, is the band's sixth studio effort and follows up the band's hugely successful 2009 Mercury Prize-nominated release, Only Revolutions. Whether appreciated as a double- or single-disc album (the band released both versions), Opposites is a sprawling, ambitious work that once again finds the Scottish rock trio balancing its prog rock inclinations with its undeniable talent for mainstream, radio-ready pop. In that sense, Biffy Clyro are certainly one of the most album-oriented, '70s-style rock acts of their generation -- though their sound is hardly retro.
Since the release of 2007’s magnificent Puzzle, Biffy Clyro have seen their popularity slowly rise, working hard to establish themselves as one of the best live bands around. The Scottish trio’s reputation was further enhanced by their stadium-reaching fifth album, Only Revolutions, which saw them finally make the deserved transition from perennial support act to headliners at Sonisphere 2011. It was an incredible achievement, one that many would not have entertained after listening to Biffy Clyro’s earlier material.
Over the course of their fourth and fifth albums (2007’s ‘Puzzle’ and 2009’s ‘Only Revolutions’) Ayrshire’s Biffy Clyro took on the task of transforming themselves from a trio of leftfield weirdies to masters of melodic mega-rock. The next phase: consolidate their position and show they’re capable of Foo Fighters levels of global fame. So they went to Santa Monica, California and got deeply into medical-grade marijuana, and things got heavy.
Biffy Clyro’s ascent from Scottish alternative rockers with a small faithful following to one of the 21st century’s few arena bothering pop-rock bands has been a success story that few could have predicted. It has been a slow but steady rise through years and years of paying dues and touring tirelessly while releasing albums full of anthemic songs that range from emotionally charged (“Just Boy” / “Questions & Answers”) to adrenaline loaded angularity (“Bodies in Flight” / “There Is No Such Thing As a Jaggy Snake”). The first three studio releases confirmed that the Kilmarnock trio—Simon Neil (vocals/guitars), James Johnston (bass/vocals) and Ben Johnston (drums/vocals)—were bristling with plenty of great ideas, but at times were lacking killer song-writing instinct.
Biffy Clyro might have begun life with their roots in prog-metal, but their sixth album continues their move to a more polished, arena-friendly sound. Indeed, the anthemic likes of The Thaw and Biblical wouldn't sound out of place on a Snow Patrol album. However, more interesting fare lurks on the second disc of this double-CD package: the mariachi trumpet flourishes on Spanish Radio are a nice touch, while the ferocious Modern Magic Formula pulls no punches.
Biffy Clyro's new album arrives bearing all the hallmarks of A Very Important Artistic Statement. It's not merely that Opposites is a double album, the longstanding signifier of grand ambitions and creativity so torrential that one disc alone cannot contain its bounty: you could actually fit the material here on one CD, but they've split it over two, the better to declare its place in the grand lineage of Tommy, Physical Graffiti, The Wall and Apollo 440's Dude Descending a Staircase. It is, furthermore, a conceptual double album, with each of its discs bearing a separate title.
A couple of tracks into disc two of Opposites, the much-awaited newie from Britain's only properly massive rock band that aren’t Muse, there’s a song called ‘Modern Magic Formula’. Its title is appropriate but also a bit optimistic - by the time you actually get that far you’re so bored by Biffy Clyro’s 'formula' that it’s hard to pay any attention to this particular version of it. Whatever magic was here has long since drained.
A double album of evolution, showcasing a Biffy Clyro ready for any industry curveballs. Al Fox 2013 The last time Biffy Clyro released an LP – 2009’s Only Revolutions – it expanded their glowing track record of top 40 appearances. With the singles chart now a Rihanna-centric guitar wasteland, the onus is on the album format to prop up a rock act.