Biffy Clyro - Opposites Album Review
The title of Biffy Clyro's sixth studio album - Opposites - is a little misleading. As the record is a double whammy offering, it infers the two sides are somehow at odds with one another, hinting at differing themes and perhaps offering alternative sounds or ideas. The best double albums in the rock and pop pantheon - Songs in the Key of Life, The White Album, Exile On Main St - tend to offer up instance justification as to why they became double-headers in the first place.
Now considered amongst Britain's biggest straight-up rock bands, Kilmarnock's finest Biffy Clyro have for several years stuck loyally by their formula of spikey jabbing guitar riffs, rousing choruses and a general bombast that appears to please a whole swathe of music fans. The real lightbulb moment came during the writing and recording of 2009's Only Revolutions, when Simon Neil came up with Mountains, That Golden Rule, The Captain and Many of Horror - the kind of meat-and-potatoes rock song that much of Opposites bases its foundations upon. The latter track was melodic enough for Simon Cowell and his henchman to pinch for Matt Cardle's ceremonious X-Factor winning single in 2010 (but not before renaming it, When We Collide).
Despite its two sides, Opposites actually rollicks along at a generous pace, clocking in at 80 minutes. Things get off to a pretty encouraging start, with Different People and Black Chandelier encapsulating everything that is enjoyable about Biffy Clyro. Both tracks are direct results of 'the formula' and feature whopping great choruses and plenty of opportunity for a sing-a-long. The latter sits proudly alongside the likes of Tom Odell, Rihanna and Devlin on Radio 1's A-playlist. Sounds Like Balloons recalls The Captain and will doubt evoke similar whooping and cheering among the Biffy elite across Britain's festivals this summer. All this is fine, absolutely fine - and had this been a single album, they'd have been halfway to an impressive sounding long-player by now - but Opposites has a massive problem, and you almost guess it without having heard the record. As mentioned, double albums need to offer some form of variety - otherwise, what's the point of spreading the same stuff across two sides? Opposites becomes tiring around 12 songs in, though not in any particularly offensive way, it simply becomes that Biffy Clyro's album playing in the background, rather than the record that had you mildly intrigued about 30 minutes ago. As such, the album is spread too thinly, though it doesn't necessarily mean it's a collection of bad songs. In fact, it doesn't mean that at all. Fifteen of these tracks could be singles. Most of them have huge choruses, great sounding guitars and that raspy, genuine and recognisable Easy Ayrshire accent of Neil. Pockets, Trumpet Or Tap and Stingin' Belle would find a comfortable home on Radio 1 too and they're all great for the Biffy bank balance, but they begin to sound exactly the same after an hour or so.
Opposites is screaming out for some variety midway through side two, and Trumpet or Tap masquerades as a cover of Time Is on My Side for all of one second, before descending into another nugget from the Biffy conveyer belt. It's no bad thing, really. There's plenty to admire and very little to knock about this fiery Scottish trio. They've made a record that's too long. They're hardly the first to be guilty of such a crime against rock music.
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