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Archive Album Review: Opposites by Biffy Clyro

Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro released their sixth studio album Opposites on the 28th January 2013. It’s a fantastic 20 track opus spanning 2 CDs.

Even on first listen it’s evident that Biffy Clyro have grown and developed a sound that surpasses all other UK rock music. Don’t underestimate how good Opposites is, it’s complex and intricate. At times it’s dark and brooding, at others it is life affirming and joyful.

This contrast marks out the theme of both CDs in this double album. The first CD The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones takes a darker look at the past with a sense of resentment and resignation to failure. It contains some of the most beautifully fragile and tender songs Biffy Clyro have done to date alongside some wonderfully angst ridden anthems. In direct contrast The Land At The End Of Our Toes takes a positive and uplifting approach. Again there’s a wonderful blend of slow songs and full out rock tracks in distinctive Biffy Clyro style. See where they got the album title from?

It would be all too easy to fill a double album with filler tracks and B side material, but mark my words, Opposites contains no weak tracks. All 20 tracks exceed expectations and flourish into a simply superb album. It isn’t hyperbole when I say this could be the best album I’ve ever heard.

There’s a gentle opening to Opposites with ‘Different People’ leading with the superb and distinctive vocals of Simon Neil. The keyboards are reminiscent of a M83 hook, before the trademark Biffy Clyro intricate guitars and groove of the bass and drums kick in. Lyrically it’s a tad dark which, as mentioned, sets the marker for the first CD. ‘Black Chandelier’ is next up, it’s the second single released from Opposites so you probably already know its awash with passionate vocals and a superb guitar riff – the first real big rock song on the album – the structure and musicianship is perfect. ‘Sounds Like Balloons’ gives you more of that distinctive Biffy Clyro guitar work, detailed start/stop structure gives the riff hypnotic qualities. There’s harp fill between the riffs and the chorus sounds absolutely massive. ‘Opposite’ is downbeat and quiet, lyrically it could be considered pretty depressing, but it’s incredibly beautiful. Simon focuses on the breakdown of his relationships with “you’re in the love with the shadow that can’t come back”.

‘The Joke’s On Us’ brings the us back to the big rock song and questions their relationship with God. Again the guitar work is superb and Simon Neil’s vocals are simply fantastic. ‘Biblical’ is massive, there’s strings, a huge defiant chorus, big backing vocals. Top notch stuff. ‘A Girl And His Cat’ starts with a brilliant electronic intro before launching into a massive cacophony of guitars and drums. “We are looking for love, but you’re baying for love” continues the theme of the breakdown of personal relationships. Eighth track ‘Fog’ is delicate and fragile, there’s a sinister Twin Peaks quality. Biffy Clyro seem to have perfected the art of writing a beautiful ballad in recent years and ‘Fog’ is a shining example of it. There’s a chaotic end to the track which feels like a explosion of emotion – a really goosebumps moment. ‘Little Hospitals’ contains a wonderful groove and the perturbing line “I’ll turn your baby into lemonade”, before ‘The Thaw’ signs off  The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones in brilliantly sombre fashion – it’s brimming with emotion, the vocals sound really pained – a glorious end to the CD.

Second CD,  The Land At The End Of Our Toes, kicks off with first single and magnificent ‘Stinging Bell’, it’s upbeat and majestically soars from big riffs to the bag-pipe crescendo. The final minute and a half of ‘Stinging Bell’ should be a hallmark of what a rock song should be. ‘Modern Magic Formula’ is akin to old school Biffy Clyro sounding like a track from The Vertigo Of Bliss or Infinity Land. Its a chaotic and breathtaking whirlwind of guitars and rasping vocals. ‘Spanish Radio’ has a stunning trumpet intro, with the trumpets going on to complement the guitars and driving bass perfectly. ‘Victory Over The Sun’ is a slow burner before intricate guitars kick in and the chorus gives way to a brilliantly joyful riff. It also sees the lyrics becoming brighter with chants of “listen to your heart and sing” and the defiant “We can change the world despite or enemies”.

‘Pocket’ has a ravishing guitar riff which seems to emit a feel good factor, lyrically it deals with love and being close to someone – splendid stuff!. ‘Trumpet Or Tap’ starts of with an Aerosmith style swagger, it’s joyous and enriching.  The String led end works wonderfully bringing the track to a grandiose finish. ‘Skylight’ brings us back to the beautiful and tender sound that was so abundant on the first CD. The programmed drums and electronic back drop give it a first-class eighties feel. ‘Accident Without Emergency’ carries on the laid back feel, booming and commanding bass leads the track before big life affirming guitar kick in. Its a ridiculously good song goosebumps are out in force from start to finish. Penultimate song ‘Woo Woo’ is wonderfully positive, Simon Neill sings about moving on and falling in love. ‘Picture A Knife Fight’ brings Opposites to a sublime finish. Its rammed with big hooks and pop swagger. The chorus is fantastic and as to be expected it all comes together perfectly

Opposites is peer-less. Not only is this the best album Biffy Clyro have done, this is perhaps the best album I’ve ever heard. I cannot recommend it enough, you’ll have goosebumps at numerous intervals. It’s a roller-coaster of emotion and the musicianship is second to none.  A magnificent album an easy 10/10.

 

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