Asynchronous music attempts to unite
Recorded well before the pandemic, Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro released their ninth full-length album, A Celebration of Endings which topped the UK album charts almost immediately. Both upbeat and gnarly, this album marches to its own drum to cover a variety of music genres and moods. Though this album is not quite as settling as people think it might be.
To kick off their album, “North of No South” is a much more played out grunge rock melody. Its lack of traditional musical timing within the instruments seems to work to its own benefit and produced a track worth listening to. It is probably one of their stronger songs, as there is a sense of unity and harmony which some other tracks lack significantly. To follow is “The Champ”, which draws you in with a soulful introduction. It eases listeners into Biffy Clyro’s style of playing, which mixes heart and angst. Though after a minute of soul it quickly shifts into a more rampant beat that foreshadows many of the other tracks, such as “Cop Syrup”. This song travels to new directions and is their most grunge track of the album. Throaty vocals by Simon Neil drag people into the angst of these lyrics which soon tapers off into a mellow instrumental until the final seconds of the track.
On a different note, “Tiny Indoor Fireworks” is more alternative but is much too uppity for this band’s sound. The guitar riffs and drumming are engaging, though the lyrics could have been pawned off by any songwriter to a mainstream act and it would go unnoticed. This is the same with “Weird Leisure,” with fantastic instrumental engagement and minimal creativity in the vocals. It is another attempt to radiate positivity but was executed in a disappointing fashion.
“Worst Type of Best Possible” is much more enthralling, with more stamina to keep the song going than almost all of the other songs. It is similar to their previous work, with the undertone of sadness that seems original. A fantastic guitar solo by Neil makes for a nice change of pace, and Ben Johnston’s drumming is nothing but energetic. He truly seems to have carried this album for many of its weaker songs.
“End Of” is a song that uses the spite of the lyrics to its advantage, making an emotionally driven song without losing the melody. This is also the same with “The Pink Limit,” which crescendos with low-grunge tunes though compromises with stellar guitar riffs from Neil and woeful bass from James Johnston. “Instant History (Full Version)” strikes a different note, with hints of EDM and a transcendent beat. As one of their more empowering songs, it has the potential to be a hit track. Though it seems like the black sheep of the album, with a different motive and high-stressed rhythm.
Though after repeated listening, it seems that this album was made by two different bands: one with flare and a serious attitude problem, and one with a broad-spectrum sound meant for the mainstream. As a listener, it’s confusing, though for many it may be their solution to finding more of this bipolar rock. The mainstream act seems to be more evident towards the end of the album, with songs like “Opaque” and “Space” trying to mask the grunge of earlier songs. It is part of a much larger attempt by Biffy Clyro to radiate positivity in their music and mask all of the negativity which is occurring in the world at this moment in time.
There’s no doubt that this band has the musical talent to take their music further, though A Celebration of Endings unquestionably came up short in doing this. With asynchronous genre fusions, unoriginal lyrics and little harmony this album lacks what this band should be capable of. Granted the instruments of this album performed much better than their façade as a band, but this is no excuse for the limited creativity in their music.