By Biffy Clyro
Biffy Clyro are, inexplicably, one of those bands you're not really allowed to like. All too often dismissed as lowly emo, the Scottish three-piece band have somehow never quite broken in to the mainstream. Their new album, Puzzle, is a curious mix of both disproving and encouraging the prejudice.
The opening track, "Living Is A problem Because Everything Dies", the second single from 'Puzzle', is a perfect encapsulation of this. Merely in its instrumentation - the addition of a full-blown baroque choir and a string ensemble, namely - it is too radical to be of interest to the truly image-conscious. But even I have a few qualms about this track. While the guitar parts and bass parts are equally as interesting and intricate as the strings and choir, it is almost verging on the Spinal Tap-esque in its attempts to be epic, and certain lyrics do make the line between depressive rock and blush-inducing emo a measly spot on the horizon. And "Get Fucked Stud" and 9/15ths" are sadly of the same mould.
Luckily, it does pick up, peculiarly after the first two tracks - both singles - in spite of the aforementioned musical faux-pas. "As Dust Dances 2/15ths" is a particularly nice showcase for Biffy Clyro's surprising talent for writing some appealing melodies and using clean guitars and light drum grooves. "Machines" similarly is an unusually 'pretty' track; it wouldn't seem very out of place amongst some contemporary singer-songwriters' material.
Another very praise-worthy song is "The Conversation Is..." - a veritable pop-rock radio hit. With some soaring, melodious arpeggios on the guitar, some very nice vocal harmonising and very catchy hooks, this track really begs the question of why Biffy Clyro aren't a worldwide sensation.
The album contains a lot of gems that barely need digging out: they're completely accessible and striking even on a first listen. Despite a few dubious moments, Biffy Clyro show they really are a force to be reckoned with. After a little refining and developing, this band could well produce a classic album in the years to come. In the meantime, "Puzzle" will entertain us with its infectious hooks and equally catching vivacity. Oh, and it will indulge those who are rather ashamed of their fondness for emo music with a healthy dash of fitting desperation, cynicism and adolescent angst.