Biffy are a bit of an enigma for me. They’re a huge band, a stadium rock band that can headline most festivals in the UK but… I just don’t get it. My entry point was back in 2007 when they released the album, Puzzle. I liked some of the songs but my taste was moving into a much heavier sound & Biffy couldn’t really answer that.
This, their 7th album is the first new Biffy stuff I taken the time to listen too & opening song Wolves of Winter had me really excited. It’s got a great little rock beat with some really fun and exciting vocal work. The song is a statement of intent and incredibly catchy. A fantastic start, one that had me excited for what would come after.
Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the album as Friends and Enemies proves to be a whole lot less exciting or interesting. It has a nice beat but ends horrifically, a very jarring moment something that happens a lot throughout. The experimental sounds & vocals often grate & can ruin a catchy beat.
Far too much of this album is just average, unexciting and bland. This isn’t a band taking many risks and by track 6 there have already been 2 ballads. The first, Re-Arrange has a lovely soft piano intro ruined by horrible ‘doo-doo-doo’ vocals. This is a chore of a song & by the end I hated it, one of the worst songs on the album.
The lack of heaviness is fairly obvious by time Herex comes along. Don’t get me wrong, I know Biffy aren’t a metal band but I also know they are capable of harder rocking songs. Herex does have flashes & some interesting guitar melodies but it’s hardly inspiring.
The mid-point of the album is all filler, there is little that standouts & nothing that made me want to hit repeat. The production on this album is super high, not always a negative but here it just feels too polished, it’s not unexpected for a band this big but I like a bit of rawness and that is nowhere to be found here.
Things get worse though when Small Wishes comes along. A jaunty intro turned me off almost instantly & as the song goes on it gets worse. It’s a fucking country song and I hated every second of it. The worst song on the entire album and the worst song I’ve heard this year. No excuses, this is a terrible song & even the most hardcore Biffy fan should recognise that.
It’s hard to get back into the songs that come after & while it does pick up, it doesn’t improve enough to hold my interest. People is the third ballad of the album & while it brings in a piano it doesn’t use it well. The better of the ballad bunch but that really isn’t saying much.
The double header of Don’t, Won’t, Can’t & In the Name of the Wee Man finish the album with the former being another average slab of lazy rock while the latter has a jarring intro but brings an element of heaviness that is missing far too much in the album. It’s a strong finish, something that a 13 track album really needed but it’s far too little, too late.
Far from the worst rock album I’ve heard this year (Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway wins that one so far) but I expected so much more from a band that can sell out arenas & stadiums. It’s clearly a safe album for them & few risks are taken with the ones that are, falling way short. The good songs are good, interesting and listenable but the bad songs are absolutely terrible & sadly far too much of this album is average.
Overall Track List:
1. Wolves of Winter
2. Friends and Enemies
3. Animal Style
8. On a Bang
9. Small Wishes
12. Don’t, Won’t, Can’t
13. In the Name of the Wee Man
Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis (14th Floor Records)