Biffy Clyro - Puzzle

Biffy Clyro
Puzzle LP

I must start this review with a confession and an apology. First the confession. I have been a fan of Biffy Clyro’s work since day one and as such am fully aware that my love for this band probably clouded my judgement – so gushing with praise elsewhere on this site for the previous singles to be released from this album.

Anyway, when it came to sitting down to listen through Puzzle for the first time I decided that I wasn’t going to do it this time around. I wasn’t going to be tempted by the shiny packaging or be seduced by the promises from mainstream media that this record would change my life. In short – I was not going to be so quick to fall in love this time goddammit!!! This time I’m playing hard to get – make them work for it.

And now for the apology – I did it again. Since taking delivery of my copy of this album a week or so ago (thanks for that Rob) I have listened to this album constantly. In the car (the kids were headbanging in the back), after a bottle of wine (overwhelmingly massive), on my iPod (bleeding ears), and around the house (where it neatly provided a distraction to the washing up). The problem is that after listening to the record this many times I am still only beginning to understand what an impact this record has made on me, and will for anyone who hears it.

They have seduced me before – breathless encounters with previous singles ‘Semi Mental’, ‘Saturday Superhouse’, and ‘Living Is A Problem’ led to an excitable rush and a torrent of superlatives but the time spent with this album is a more serious affair – I’ve spent times examining The Kooks, discovering the bits I never noticed before and have fallen head over heels in love.

The question for many when news of a major label move leaked earlier this year was how will they stay so fiercely indie and unique with major financial pressures? It seems obvious pretty early on that the pressure has only forced the Glaswegians to up their game even further – by applying bigger and better hooks to some of their most outlandish ideas. It’s clear that by the end of it, these guys were standing eye to eye with this pressure and laughing it in the face.

The gestation period of this album has been tough for Team Biff, the death of Simon Neil’s mother last year affected the singer greatly and contemplations on life, death, loss, emptiness, and morality make up the lyrical content here, with Neil baring all and opening up rather than employing the cryptic twists of yore. This new found confidence is accompanied by the development of the band musically, the Johnston brothers offering a monumental rhythm section of massive bass and seismic drums on which trademark angular riffs, atonal lead lines and complex timings are laid from Simon’s guitar. There is no doubt that this record sounds enormous. Not in an overblown way (a la your Twangs et al) but in an overwhelming way, the music crashes over you like waves throttling you for attention and leaving you dazed.

One of the key things for the band when recording the album was to try and incorporate new sounds and textures without thinking too much about how to do it live. The results include some stunning orchestral backing to the likes of ‘Living is a Problem…’ while the choral backing to ‘9/15th (Were on a Hell Slide)’ sounds like Satan’s own backing group. Meanwhile, the confidence to move into new musical territories (see the achingly pretty ‘Folding Stars’ – a certified smash hit crossover for sure) adds a further string to the bow.

This record is, in short, intimidating good for every band in the UK right now. With the exception of possible nearest peers Muse, no one in the UK (hell, the world) has offered up a record in the last twelve months on this scale, with this much ambition, and make it look this easy. We have a genuine world-class act here and, coupled with a live reputation like no other, it seems we have the new biggest band in Britain

So there we go, I did it again. I fell in love and you know what? I’m not even sorry.

Guest article from Ben M.

Written by Guest Writers on

Between 2003 and 2009, [the-mag] had regular contributors from music correspondents covering their local scene. You'll find them all in the guest writers section. The specific writer is mentioned at the bottom of each article.

Discover More Music