Like most movies, shows, bands, and books that I love and that I am a fan of, I have a very personal attachment to Biffy Clyro. I learned about this band when one of my best friends posted a picture with the lyrics from “God & Satan”, immediately I couldn’t shake off the lyrics and once I heard the actual music I fell in love. Fast forward a couple of years, Biffy Clyro is headlining Reading & Leeds in 2013 for 170,000 fans, and I went to their concert in my hometown with that same friend a couple of months later where they performed for 300 people at max. I was sad for them, but that concert will forever be one of my favorites for the intimate experience it was.
If that wasn’t enough, this band was one of the few that I introduced to my dad and now I think of him every time I listen to it. I’m happy that me, him and my brother have connected and bonded over our common love of the band. This little introduction brings me to A Celebration of Endings, their newest album that dropped in the middle of the night on August 14th. With a tracklist consisting of eleven songs and just about 45 minutes long, I wasn’t even halfway through and I couldn’t wait to share this album with friends and family.
Biffy Clyro, or Mon The Biff for the fans, is a Scottish trio that is well known for their chaotic music. And when I say chaotic I mean it, if you ever wondered how a love ballad/arena rock/acoustic/hard rock/post-punk/EDM-ish/classical/pop and whatever musical influences you can imagine would sound like in one discography, this is the band for you. Surely, over their career they missed the mark and seemed as if they had bitten more than they could chew, sounding and feeling as if they were doing too much. But when they get it right, they get it right. And A Celebration of Endings is the perfect example of the refinement of 25 years of crafting music.
“The thought behind the whole album is that changing is not a bad thing.”
— Simon Neil
The concept that change can be positive is easily perceived here as veteran fans will find it easy to recognize traces of everything that made the band great up until now while acknowledging the change, evolution and maturity of their sound. With a tracklist that mimics some of the band’s best moments, I am happy to share this album with friends as it feels like a very easy entryway into the rest of their discography.
Simon Neil, frontman and vocalist, stated that first tracks usually are the most important tracks in any given album because they set the tone for the entire project. Having that in mind, “North of No South” the opening track is everything Biffy Clyro further explores in this album, the catchy riffs, groovy bass lines, erratic drumming, chaotic transitions and multiple tempo switches keep you on your toes throughout the whole album. The Scottish trio floats through many styles and genres seamlessly, taking listeners on a journey in every single track from the album, and that journey pays off.
“Have you ever been a place
From which you couldn’t leave
But, of course, you couldn’t stay?”
— North of No South
The bands eighth full-length album is a 45 minutes burst of creativity, that hits you like a double shot of espresso only taking a breather during the song “Space” which is a love ballad that comes in halfway through and gives listeners a chance to settle down for the final stretch and crescendo that is the latter half of the project. Not trying to impart any kind of technical knowledge on the production side, but through Simon Neil’s interviews on the project you know that a lot of attention was put into the order of the tracklist, and sitting down to listen to it, A Celebration of Endings feels extremely cohesive, even with its wide-ranging style.
As for themes around this album, it deviates from the introspective, gentler side of the trio’s regular composing topics. A weird event if you remember we’re in lockdown and it promotes self-isolation and reflection, nonetheless the band found inspiration from the outside as stated by vocalist Simon Neil. Ranging through talks about self-empowerment, substance abuse, DIY attitude, generational gaps, politics, chasing dreams, friendship, and standing up for your values and beliefs, fans get less of a wishful thinking narrative and instead are rewarded with a confident statement of our need for change.
A track-by-track analysis from Biffy Clyro’s vocalist can be found in the Apple Music editor’s note and his interview with NME below.
“And I think the beautiful tapestry of the band is that you can retain those things that make your identity. But you don’t just fall back on them as a safeguard all the time.”
— Ben Johnston
No one can call Biffy Clyro boring, or “safe”. They keep bringing refreshing takes on music, and exploring the limits of songwriting, even after 25 years. Yes, they have a defining trait, but they refuse to rely on it and submit to the expectations set by their previous projects. Maintaining its essence and originality, while not settling for a tried and true formula, A Celebration of Endings has enormous potential of being nominated and winning during award season. A project that checks all the right boxes for a rock album, provides growth and replayability to old fans and is an easy entry point for new fans, A Celebration of Endings is easily one of the best albums I’ve heard in 2020, and a contender for the number one spot in the band’s discography.
Special thanks to Felipe Riera for moonlighting as my editor.