Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis

by James Weiskittel Rating:4 Release Date:2016-07-08

Biffy Clyro has become something of a Scottish institution since forming some twenty years ago.  In that time, frontman Simon Neil, and the brothers Johnston (bassist James and drummer Ben) have dutifully guided their band out of the murky post-hardcore waters of their early days into fully-fledged arena-rock status culminating with the smashing success of 2013’s Opposites.  And so, after spending the better part of six albums climbing steadily to the top, one had to wonder where Biffy Clyro would go from there.  That next step is the soon to be released Ellipsis, an album that finds Biffy Clyro looking to shake things up a bit.

With Neil predictably proclaiming Ellipsis to be “the best thing” the band has done to date, the sentiment will undoubtedly be shared with at least some of the band’s core fanbase, but make no mistake, Ellipsis is in no way a simple retread of the band’s past achievements.  Gone are the orchestral embellishments and polished production that characterized the band’s recent output, as it seems Biffy Clyro’s mission this time around was to return to the lo-fi approach of their early years.  

Album opener “Wolves of Winter”, with its stripped down ‘meat & potatoes’ arrangement and production, perfectly sets the tone for what is to follow.  While tracks like “Animal Style” and “Herex” continue to push the faux-low-fi production, the actual melody and structure of said songs have much more in common with the recent Biffy output than anything resembling their early records.  There are also forays into electronica (“Re-arrange”), folk (“Medicine” & “Small Wishes”), and funk-rock (?!?) (“Flammable”), with each and every song yielding equally head-scratching results.

Where Niel has described Opposites as ‘Ridley Scott’, Ellipsis is not quite the Super-8-Indie that the band has described.  There is making a record in your garage, and then there is making a record in a plush, swanky studio sound like you made it in your garage…(and yes, there is a difference).  Regardless of where you stand on Biffy Clyro, the fact remains that they have covered a ton of sonic ground during the course of their career, and Ellipsis finds the band seemingly grasping for straws when it comes to what direction they want to take next.

The main thing working against Ellipsis is that the band’s current brand of radio-ready, hook-laden songwriting is much better served by the overblown production of their recent releases.  Peeling back all of those layers, unfortunately, does not serve this version of the band whatsoever.  Points awarded for trying something new, but otherwise, Ellipsis is best left for fans only.

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