Music Reviews
A Celebration of Endings

Biffy Clyro A Celebration of Endings

(14th Floor Records/Warner Bros.) Rating - 8/10

Biffy Clyro's A Celebration of Endings is a musically varied, bright, and intriguing album that has plenty of high points for devotees throughout its run. I know of Biffy primarily through their touring guitarist Mike Vennart as a huge fan of Oceansize, that most sorely missed, bit-of-everything band he was part of. I've also seen them take enough decent billings at festivals and heard enough of their devoted fanbase to know they are a very successful group.

North of no South kicks things off with a terrific swing, and is a great advert for the record's exceptional punchy bright mix—there are jangling guitars, pleasing chord sequences, and a strong chorus set to handclaps. Simon Neil's distinctive vocals cut confidently through each track and are a perfect fit tonally for the jumpy, tempestuous music he and his bandmates James (bass and vocals) and Ben Johnston (drums and vocals) serve up. You can hear in the playing and arrangements that this is a three-piece that knows exactly what each leg of the tripod is doing; they aren't afraid to take a spider-esque wander into different territory. The Champ rolls out an atmospheric piano and string-led intro that fuses 70s-like vocal harmonies with chugging rock rhythms. The band succeeds in keeping this variation of sound, melody, and tempo on Weird Leisure' expertly placing subtle atmospheric touches and overdriven guitars right at the heart of the mix announcing its arrival. Tiny Indoor Fireworks is different again, an upbeat, three-minute blitz with another nifty pre-chorus, an arrangement the group seems to have a knack for.

The middle of the album, however, doesn't retain the same unpredictable-while-catchy marker. Worst Type of Best Possible'and Space plod along, especially the latter, which attempts to get as much change as possible out of the word space ("always a space in my heart, I'm still caught in your gravity") over a ballad-type arrangement that isn't particularly effective. End Of attempts to break things up a bit with a long intro and a pleasingly dirty bass tone complete with heavy drop tempo midsection, but is slightly undermined immediately afterward by Instant History. This is a further change of tack gone too far; it's loping drum track and ascending synth lines have been done a thousand times in recent years, and more effectively, by other groups.

Thankfully, though, the last three tracks all have something about them. The Pink Limit chucks the proverbial kitchen sink at the listener with electric guitar noise, rumbling bass, clean guitars, Queen-esque double guitar harmonies, and a dynamic instrumental outro to boot; a mad arrangement, but one worth persevering with. Opaque is a much more successful attempt at a ballad arrangement; the melodic themes simple enough with expertly balanced strings and guitars intertwining, on top of which sits a dark, claustrophobic narrative creating a captivating atmosphere. The repeated lyrics "these walls are closing in" drills that mood home satisfyingly, albeit, uneasily. Closing track Cop Syrup has some of the best dynamics across the runtime; the front end all overdrive and snarling vocals, even with some Police-esque flange guitar surfacing during the chorus before a break down into a very attractive acoustic guitar pattern that builds in intensity for several minutes.

All in all, A Celebration of Endings is a curious, often potent blend of sounds and influences. While lyrically dark, its exploration is more often than not a very satisfying ride into the unknown.