Biffy Clyro | A Celebration of Endings | (14th Floor / Warner Music)
4 out of 5 stars
There’s an irony to calling the reach, capability and resources Biffy Clyro has worked two decades to amass a “wealth” of such. Every creative avenue was open to the Scottish trio for its eighth LP, A Celebration of Endings. Yet for any amount of sonic polish or conventional song structure on the 11-track album, Simon Neil, James Johnston and Ben Johnston didn’t opt to include those characteristics sheerly as some display of elitist status, financial superiority or apathetic surrender to pandering after years of atypical writing and musical nonconformism. If anything, this record channels and blends the raucous energy of Biffy’s early days with the perspective the band has developed – both artistic and social – thanks to the very advancement of time some may worry could dull the band’s mental resolve or aural punch.
Indeed, Endings is ripe with evidence of meticulous mixing and production; everything from the across-the-board crispness of every instrument and vocal to the painstaking effort exercised to ensure the smallest of musical details remains noticeable. However, the album’s sonic approachability merely serves as a welcoming entranceway for the unbridled mental, emotional, social and political outcries within each song. While “Instant History” and “End Of” stir up musical whiplash, flying from structured anthemic call-and-response to vocal-blaster-turned-emotional-catharsis respectively, they – along with every other track – display different manifestations of reckoning with problems plaguing global society like bigotry and corruption. One is introspective while the other lets exasperation spill out freely for others to witness.
Where A Celebration of Endings excels most is not solely in its compiling of various sobering narratives with catchy or satisfyingly progressive songwriting. It’s Biffy’s empathizing with people facing the real-world crises outlined in these songs and recognizing the importance of writing melodies anyone struggling can appreciate, all while making each song unique enough so as to come away with a record where the music doesn’t repeat itself but instead allows the shouts for change to echo and take priority.
Photo: Ash Roberts