Biffy Clyro’s “Black Chandelier” video premiers online, with Opposites coming to American listeners in March
Those who have followed me through my writing on this site and others over the last five years will know I’m a huge Biffy Clyro fan. But being a fan of the band in America means being something of a second-class listener — they don’t sell out tours here easily, and we rarely get to hear new music at the same time European fans do. Still, it’s hard to bitch too mightily when the longer waits just make the new music sound all that much sweeter when we get it.
When I commented on their last album, Only Revolutions, and the ensuing Foo Fighters tour which came from that album’s promotion cycle, I’d opined that perhaps at long last the band “may have finally gotten the break they need to smash through to success in America.” Alas, that didn’t happen. Still, I hold out hope that their upcoming album Opposites might deliver the outpouring of radio play their layered blend of poly-rhythmic punk-rock and melodic pop deserves.
“Black Chandelier,” out now on YouTube, illustrates the continued evolution of their sound. “I’ll sit in silence for the rest of my life if you like,” Simon Neil sings at the start, and, building on the pop smarts of previous singles like “Mountains” and “God and Satan,” I’m immediately reminded why I frequently praise the depth and quality of their singable choruses. Even as the “drip drip drip” of the song’s opening salvo quietly drills into my skull, ensuring this melody won’t leave my lips for days, I’m inking the March 12 US release date on my calendar. With any luck this will break its way onto the Hot 100, announcing for the rest of America what those of us in the know spent years shouting, praying as we did that Neil never follows through on that threat of silence.
Biffy Clyro, one of the most underrated pop-punk / math-rock bands currently touring and recording, may have finally gotten the break they need to smash through to success in America. The Scottish trio is hitting the road with Foo Fighters this month for a portion of their spring tour before making the rounds on several headlining dates and a performance at Seattle’s Sasquatch Festival.
The band has also issued a US deluxe single for “Many of Horror.” Available now on iTunes, it includes “Many of Horror” as well as an acoustic version of “Mountains” and two tracks previously unreleased in the US: “Paperfriend” and “Little Soldiers.”
Biffy Clyro US tour dates are below. For more information, visit www.biffyclyro.com.
May 14 2011 – The Piazza – Philadelphia, PA
May 17 2011 - BOK Center – Tulsa, OK*
May 18 2011 – Verizon Arena – North Little Rock *
May 20 2011 – FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN*
May 22 2011 Fubar – Saint Louis, MO
May 23 2011 – Mid America Center – Council Bluffs, IA*
May 24 2011 – Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO
May 26 2011 – Adams Center – Missoula, MT*
May 27 2011 – Sasquatch Festival – Gorge
May 29 2011 – Showbox at the Market – Seattle, WA
* with Foo Fighters
Glasgow’s hard rock juggernaut known as Biffy Clyro is a band as hard to classify as any other I’ve stumbled on over the last several years. The three-piece band mounts a massive wall of sonic dissonance with each song, creating invigorating artistic interplay while juggling complicated math-rock inspired progressions with prog-rock and pop leanings to create a brew you’re not going to find on any American radio station near you. I reviewed their Roadrunner debut, Puzzle, for SSv two years ago and I’d still stand by my argument that the band crafted one of the ten best albums of ‘07 that no one in America got the chance to fully appreciate.
The band’s latest album has not yet been given an American release, but thanks to the Internet in all its glory, this critic has gotten the opportunity to hear Only Revolutions, which has already gone top ten and Gold in the UK. And what an impressive album it is. If fans of the band’s heavier leanings were disappointed by Puzzle’s melodic pop-rock leanings, they’re going to be positively stymied by the band’s latest album, on which every track maintains the band’s heavier elements while courting radio even more openly. It’s a rare album within which the dozen tracks complement each other fully as a complete work, but also each function as a perfect potential single in the pop-rock genre.
This is still cutting edge post-hardcore music, but with an almost symphonic pop edge to it, with Simon Neil clearly wanting the band’s music to be as diverse as is humanly possible for three guys and their instruments to accomplish. It’s even more impressive how radio ready the music of Only Revolutions is when one considers the album is essentially a multi-layered concept album based on the American road novel of the same title by writer Mark Z. Danielewski, a dual narrative which featured wayward teenagers who never age as they experience the full breadth of history, a complicated conceptual and perceptual puzzle. That work fits perfectly with Biffy Clyro’s vision and is the biggest reason aside from their musicianship that the album has such a unified vision.
That musicianship, however, is an equal partner in the album’s success. The opening one-two punch of “The Captain” and “That Golden Rule” offer up for consumption the best angles of the Biffy Clyro sound. “The Captain” opens with a rising cadence of percussion that echoes the lock-step marching of a military group, then blasts listeners with a line of horns and intense percussion, bass and guitars as Neil bursts into frame: “Angels fall to the floor … I’m not the son of God! Somebody help me sing, can anybody hear me?” Then “That Golden Rule” echoes Puzzle’s “Saturday Superhouse” with some of the heaviest guitars to ever hit such a melodic track, coupled with Neil’s staccato vocals and the rest of the band’s shout-along backing vocals.
“God and Satan” provides a quieter moment or two, as Neil sings to a bare acoustic guitar: “I talk to God as much as I talk to Satan because I want to hear both sides … does that make me cynical?” Neil sings as he examines the frequent dualities inherent in life, both spiritual and secular. The rest of the album does its best to live up to that level of rhetorical depth, and it deserves to be given the full headphone treatment, songs played in sequence in order to fully experience the breadth of material contained in just 42 minutes of balls-to-the-wall rock.
As best I can tell there’s no plan to release this album in the States, but damned if we can’t make sure the Internet gets used to its fullest extent to promote a worthy band creating impressive, complex, layered meaningful music. If enough attention is paid perhaps the band will receive a proper American release with the promotion to make sure it’s heard. Otherwise Only Revolutions is destined to be the band’s second full length to be among the best albums you didn’t get to hear. It comes with my unqualified recommendation, and is well worth the time and effort involved in hunting down a copy.
Reprinted with permission from Stereo Subversion.