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4.1 out of 5 stars
Puzzle
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2008
I have previous Biffy Clyro albums and agree they are excellent, I also agree with the people that state this is vastly different. Reading the reviews of this album shows that Biffy have polarised peoples opinions.

I think that peoples main problem is that they have become popular, they get played on the radio a lot and are not this little underground cult band anymore, there are some dodgy songs on this album but every album has one or two ("folding stars" comes to mind). It is also a little softer than I would have personally hoped for but it is also as catchy as herpes, the lyrics at certain points are weak but at other times are amazing.

The start of "Living is a problem..." is slightly comical but its also unexpected (and we wouldn't want a band to keep churning our the expected) and the song feels so good when it explodes it feels so so good. "Machines" is incredibly moving with incredibly touching lyrics, especially if you have been through a similar experience to Simon Neill. "Who's got a Match?" is a pure pop song, but oh what a pop song.

This album has a lot to offer to people new to Biffy Clyro, fans of the indie genre, fans of rock music, fans of metal (who have a softer inside) but you do need to come into it with an open mind. The big problem for the Biffy fans who hate it is they are trying something new, but wouldn't life be boring if everyone always did the same thing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Epic.

If you can find another word to describe this album tell me.

Written about his mother, Elanore (sp?), the album tells us about his feelings as a result of bereavement. Denial (Living is a problem), Anger (Who's got a match?), Reflection (A whole child ago), Isolation (The conversation is...), And helplessness (Machines).

The first song, Living is a problem... is the best intro to an album bar none. Full of energy, emotion and feeling, it really makes you think "Hell, now THIS is a band!"

A much more deeply rooted album that deals with an everday topic, Biffy Clyro have struck gold with Puzzle, entering at number two behind Rhianna in the UK album chart, they deserve all the success they get.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2007
Previous Biffy fans bemoan this LP in a really harsh way. I wasn't a Biffy fan before this album. It sits very nicely with my Idlewild and Hell Is For Heroes records... Only, maybe even better. Good quality from start to finish. Check it out unless you're an old fan of Biffy Clyro, then it seems that you should avoid, apparently!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2008
I thought I was getting too old for this but when I nicked this album from my sons bedroom it blew me away!!!
Biffy Clyro really rock and this album grows and grows,and its not one dimensional.
Check out the sensitive "As Dust Dances",a beautifully building ballad reminiscent of Nada Surf at their best.
Its all very accessible with loads of great hooks and choruses (Whos got a match?...like The Proclaimers being backed by the Offspring???)
Folding Stars is the most immediate track,but there is a lot more depth on this record.I pick up hints of The Psychedelic Furs and Midnight Oil
in parts,and even some Rezillo,s style guitar,which cant be bad.
The writing and playing is really top notch,this album deserves a repeated listen
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2007
It is November, 2004 - about a month since 'Infinity Land' was released - and it is still in my cd player/car stereo/mp3. I must have listened to it at least 50 times already. Like the previous album 'Vertigo Of Bliss' it took a few listens to REALLY appreciate - but once you did, whooa, what an album.

Fast-forward to August 2007 - and, painfully, I must admit that the same cannot be said of their eagerly-anticipated fourth album, 'Puzzle'. It seems I am not alone in predicting this album would 'happen' at some point. After all, the group had said they were after a 'pop' album - relinquishing the 'screaming' from previous work - in favour of sheening production.

le Biff have always maintained that they try to do something "different" with each album - and in that sense - it cannot be argued that 'Puzzle' is different from all their other albums. That does not mean that it is better - quite the opposite in my view.

BUT - let's put things in perspective - this IS a good album - if you give this album 1 star then surely you must hate it & Biffy that much then what's the point of you being here? But 1 star? For goodness' sake people, this is still Biffy Clyro, not Bucks Fizz or Bananarama. It is a good album - but compared with previous Biffy albums - it is unquestionably their worst, for me. I hesitate to say least 'experimental' because technically, it is experimental - they have never made such a pop-oriented, clean-sounding album - and this is unfortunately where the Biffsters fall flat on their face, and end up sounding like they've run out of ideas for the magic pot of ingredients. Unless of course they just wanted to get a 'pop' album out of their system - only to return to 'Infinity Land' ways in the near future?!: Discuss.

There is absolutely no point in me analysing particular songs, lyrical mishaps or supposed un-imaginative song structures - that is personal to each listener. Hence, if you loved 'Blackened Sky' but thought 'Vertigo...' and 'Infinity...' were 'crapper' - you may like this album more than I do. Or you may not, who knows?

One of the other reviewers hit the nail on the head - I stuck it in my cd player/car stereo/mp3 for weeks on end - but still I fail to love this album. It just doesn't grab me the way previous albums have. A shame really, and I may be verging on optimism here but maybe, just maybe, we'll hear a swift return to the ways of le Biffy of old...

I'd also like to point out that I'm not ranting and raving that people shouldn't like this album - it is a personal opinion, so calm down before you go all semi-mental on me. If you love it, great. I don't, and that's fair enough, end of.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2007
i was waiting for this album for months

i have been a huge fan of the biff boys since randomly seeing them supporting hundred reasons years ago, then leading to me picking up thier debut, blackend sky, and every album since.

as much as this band have been the biggest influence over me musically since i discovered 'at the drive-in', 'nirvana' or 'rage against the machine', they seem to have lost their exploritory, progressive sound on most songs, and fallen into the NME scene that seems to think this is their first album

dont get me wrong this album has an amazing collection of songs, full of emotion and the occasional progressive tangent, but i think their qwirky, unique and 'out-of-the-crowd' sound has been lost and this is a dire shame

one thing i will say, definatley pick up 'the vertigo of bliss' if buying this album without previously listening to them, and definately see them live, as they are THE BEST LIVE BRITISH BAND at the moment.

altho this review may not be positive, please do not shy away, a great album by normal standards, but by biffy standards, they've lost what kept them fresh and different from everyother band out there.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2007
Many bands these days seem to get hyped up on there first album, only to get slaughtered by the press on their second and then forgotten about by their third effort. Biffy on the other hand, have gradually floated to the surface, building up a hardcore contingent of fans along the way. `Puzzle' looks set to propel the band into the mainstream. The band hold some heavy weight respect having provided support for Muse at Wembley Stadium and are due to perform the same role for the Chilli Peppers at Hampden Stadium in August. A concert which I really am looking forward to!

Anyway, Puzzle is the 4th album to come from Biffy's locker. I came across them due to my brother being obsessed with them from day one. I really liked Blackened Sky and went to see them a number of times. When `Question and Answers' and `Infinity Land' came along I didn't appreciate them at the time because I felt they were just trying to over-complicate things for the sake of it. Over the last year though, I have listened to these albums more and now find them refreshingly different from what was out at the time. This made me wait for Puzzle with great anticipation...

With Puzzle it is like they have completed the full circle from when they began, and then stepped it up a gear. To break this down; with their first album it was the accessible indie/rock songs such as `27', `57' with some signs of prog in `Convex concave', which showed hints of their potential early on. The second album saw them exploring their guitar sounds and song structures more. While the 3rd album expanded their array of experimentation even more, through vocal harmonies, etc. Puzzles' roots clearly are from their first album, as they just wanted to go back to basics and make an album for the fun of blasting out a mixture of all out rock with acoustic masterpieces. Although the intro to `Living is a problem because everyone dies', along with numerous other points in the album, shows that they have taken bits from the two previous albums to put the `we haven't forgotten the progress we've made on the last two albums' stamp on some of the songs.

This is one of those albums you'll either love or hate, leaving no middle ground. If you do love it, it will make every other record in your collection seem inferior for a month or 6. `Puzzle' can be split into 3 large pieces; Rock, acoustic and rock ballady indie epic type songs. The main rockers are the singles; `Semi-mental' and `Saturday Superhouse', both are all out, brilliant sing along tunes. The title `Semi-mental' does not do the song justice as it is `FULLY MENTAL!'. The acoustic songs end the album with `Machines' and `drop it'. Listening to the lyrics in `Machines' its one of those ones that everyone can relate to at some time in their life. ie - not appreciating what they have and how lucky they are etc. Drop it on the other hand has got a kind of slow country feel to it; would be interesting to see if they took that sort of direction in the future. The last category is the sweeping, epic, rock ballady songs such as songs ending with /15ths and my favourite song on the album `The conversation is....' The easy comparison can be made to the Foo Fighters, but the reality is these are great songs, which definitely can be distinguished as Biffy's own.

This really is a great album and its almost as if Biffy knew when they were writing it that this would be the one that made them big with lyrics like - `looks like we made it' from `A whole child ago' and `This is the one' from `Now I'm everyone'. Its almost as if they're trying to send subliminal messages to people, to brainwash them into loving the album..................well it worked for me anyway!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 4 October 2007
"you are most likely a 'shallow' music fan. You like instant riffs, lyrics and predictable verse/chorus/verse structures - and have no patience for progressive style, brooding musicality and THE PURE GENIUS that is 'Vertigo...' & 'Infinity"

So says an earlier reviewer. I have never heard such a load of precious drivel. Who on earth does the reviewer think he is? Oh, I remember, one of those "real fans" who has been there since the start. Well, I've got news for you - so have I, and I would consider myself anything BUT shallow. That, however, does not stop me liking this album. A lot. Sure, there are references on show here, from Foo Fighters (Saturday Superhouse) to We Are Scientists (A Whole Child Ago), via QOTSA (Who's Got A Match), but why that means that this album is inferior to earlier offerings is beyond me. It is merely DIFFERENT to earlier offerings, and that has to be a good thing.

If you're one of the elitist bunch who hate this album because it doesn't sound like Vertigo or Infinity, here's a novel suggestion. Go listen to Vertigo or Infinity. Leave Puzzle to those of us who appreciate the fact that the band are as diverse as they are, and don't just churn out the same dozen or so songs renamed every couple of years, in the manner of Oasis. If anything, the step from Vertigo to Infinity, was the shortest one they've made, with marked similarities between the two, whereas Puzzle shows a much bigger step, one that sees the band growing hugely in popularity and success. Why does that have to be a bad thing?
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on 31 October 2010
Fans of The Old Days will say that this is not a proper Biffy Clyro record and that the things featured on their first three albums that made them unusual - i.e. screaming, the occasional use of odd time signatures, and a leaning towards progressive instrumental passages - are notably absent and have been replaced by conventional pop songs that are at times too wistful to be considered red-blooded rock music. If any of that matters to you at all then I'd suggest sticking with Infinity Land and a fine record that is I might add.

If you are not threatened by change and are interested in Simon Neil as a songwriter and Biffy Clyro as a band who are willing to evolve then I'd recommend this album highly. With all due respect to Chris Sheldon and Chris Blair who produced and mastered the first three albums, the sound of this record is first rate (something that was carried over to Only Revolutions) - thanks to the input of Garth Richardson (GGGarth), Andy Wallace, and Howie Weinberg: what these fellas don't know about recording, mixing, and mastering records ain't worth knowing. As far as the music itself goes, yes the pieces on this record are mostly pop songs in common time and are ably sung with Simon Neil's very melodious voice - but I happen to like that a great deal. After all, the kind of screaming on Jaggy Snake or Toys, Toys, Toys . . . couldn't carry on indefinitely: if you want to be a singer for any length of time you have to look after your voice. I don't know Simon Neil but I'm betting he decided to keep the screaming to a minimum for that reason; also the fact that there aren't many prog-sounding moments or pieces that aren't in common time doesn't detract from the essential Biffy-ness of their music. I'm not sure how pivotal all that was in the first place - I mean: they're not Rush, are they? If you listen back to Joy.Discovery.Invention, Justboy, Christopher's River, With Aplomb, All the Way Down, Got Wrong, Pause It and Turn It Up etc from the earlier stuff then you will easily recognise the band that made this record.

Highlights are Living is a Problem . . . Saturday Superhouse, Who's Got a Match, As Dust Dances, Now I'm Everyone, Semi-Mental: not even Thriller has that many strong songs. The intro to Living is a Problem . . . is particularly impressive - the hallmark of a band with a tight rhythm section - something which was highlighted when I heard them play it in Wembley Stadium and noticed the BOOM of the heavy staccato stabs reverberating around the stands. Thanks to ambitious arrangements this sense of scale is captured on the recording on this and other pieces.

As mentioned earlier, the production of this album makes a CD (rather than mp3) purchase of this record essential. Mon The Biff . . .
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Most great bands (and Biffy Clyro are a great band) eventually create an album that divides their existing fanbase down the middle. The Beatles, Metallica, Faith No More and Radiohead (to name a few) have all released records that have challenged the long-term fan to embrace a new direction, usually, but not exclusively, a more commercial one. Biffy's first three albums ('Blakened Sky', 'The Vertigo of Bliss' and 'Infinity Land') were challenging, vital records. Challenging because of their approach to songwriting, often cramming more ideas into a single song than most bands manage in an entire career. Vital because...well, once those pop hooks (which WERE there if you dug deep enough) took hold, they wouldn't let go. With those records (my personal favourite being 'Infinity Land'), Biffy had crafted an almost-genre for themselves, becoming the noise choise for people who liked intelligent, heavy rock. Which brings us to 'Puzzle'.

'Puzzle' is an easy record to like, and an easy record to dislike. For some long time Biffy fans, the commercial grate of 'Folding Stars' and 'Living is a Problem...' will prove too irksome. Many who I have spoken to do not like this album, and yearn for the Biffy of old. I am not one of these people. I can think of no better example of modern rock that would qualify for the status of bona-fide pop/rock/metal classic. Songs still lurch with heavy riffs and interesting guitar work (See 'Living is a Problem...', 'Semi-Mental' and the uplifting 'Saturday Superhouse'), but a clear decision has been made by the band to push their pop leanings to the forefront. The single 'Folding Stars', which has had so much vitriol spewed on it by Biffy fans, is a lovingly crafted pop song. Nothing more. As I've said, it's quite easy to dislike, but I cannot understand the hatred poured onto this song. 'Saturday Superhouse' has a world-beating chorus that remains on the right side of ANTHEM. 'A Whole Child Ago', ditto. The "such a lonely ride" refrain in 'As Dust Dances' should sound depressing, but ends up like 'Fake Plastic Trees' slightly happier big brother. 'The Conversation Is...' bristles with anger and sadness. And I've not heard a stronger acoustic album closer than 'Machines' in a long time. Vital. Uplifting. Powerful.

Not to say there are no flaws. The opening of 'Living...' is dull and has nothing to say bar a couple of false-starts that fool the listener into thinking they're listening to AN ACTUAL SONG. The middle-8 in 'Now I'm Everyone' is nice for a few bars, but quickly becomes repetitive. And 'Who's Got A Match' deserves special mention. I'd be suprised if Queens of the Stone Age havn't contacted someone to help them sue in response, as the song resembles something that they would have chucked off 'Rated R' for being slightly dull.

But the album remains an uplifting listening experience (and I know I've overused that word, it's the best I can think of to describe the album!!). I recommend it wholeheartedly but would advise that, whether you liked this album or not, you should probably check out 'The Verigo of Bliss' and 'Infinity Land' after you've absorbed this effort. Both are brilliant.

So, 'Puzzle' is a good album. Great, even. Very, very easy to like. But for the best of Biffy, you should probably go back a few years, as their most challenging work continues to be the most rewarding.
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