A (not so) Short History of Biffy Clyro – part 1

19 Mar

BiffyClyroNMEAwardsDC250211Though you may not be aware of it yet, Biffy Clyro have earned your listening pleasure. As far as hard-working bands go, they are up there near the top. But they have not simply been putting in extra shifts to compensate for any lack of ability. Hardly. These are talented musicians who, for a three-piece, have a massive sound that has been years in the making, but has also been around for years longer than the general public might be aware.

While studying at Glasgow University, Scotland, the band gigged relentlessly, often playing five, six or even seven shows in a week. That sort of live exposure, when added to the quality of both song and performance, led to a terribly devoted fan base that was constantly growing. Their first album, “Blackened Sky”, was released in 2002 and was made up of many of the songs from this period. It is a fantastic début record showing some of what was to come from the band, containing well-crafted songs that are interesting and unafraid to be different. They work the quiet/loud dynamic brilliantly, which would be polished to a sheen in later releases, and gave us a taste of singer Simon Neil’s vocals.

Tracks worth listening to: 27, Justboy, 57.

Then came 2003’s “The Vertigo of Bliss”. The band was largely unknown outside of their home land at this time, but the album was embraced by their adoring fans. With the luxury of hindsight, however, it doesn’t seem to measure up against their other releases. Joining Simon Neil’s vocals and guitar, are (Scottish and ginger) twins James and Ben Johnston, on bass and drums respectively. When your rhythm section have shared a womb, and your band have shared stage space as much as these three have, it creates an undeniable musical understanding between the members. They are tight. Very tight. When they perform live they seem to move as one and can read each other’s playing in a way that can only come from spending endless hours locked away in rehearsal rooms and exposed on stage, and they put that to good use when recording their second album.

You see, they recorded it in a day. One day in the studio to lay down thirteen tracks. That is how tight they are. The songs that make up this album are powerful, tender and interesting, changing direction mid-song when you’re not quite expecting it. Unfortunately, though the songs are solid, the album tends to get largely overlooked by fans as it doesn’t feel quite right as a whole, probably due to the rushed nature of the recording. But it is still definitely worth a listen.

Tracks: Questions and Answers, The Ideal Height, Toys Toys Toys Choke, Toys Toys Toys.

Biffy’s third album, “Infinity Land”, is many fans’ favourite and an incredible musical achievement. The sound is different to their previous releases, but it is still unquestionably Biffy. The guitar is more angular, the sound at times heavier, the changes of direction more pronounced while still making perfect sense within the context of the songs. The album keeps you interested even after years of listening, which is not an easy thing to achieve. For me, this is the Biffy that I know and love. Biffy at their best. They may have reached higher heights with later albums, but this is their best musical achievement. It sounds like nothing else before or since and has a timeless feel to it that calls you back time and again.

Tracks: My Recovery Injection, Got Wrong, Glitter and Trauma.

Tune in again soon for Part-2..

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