on 27 June 2007
I am not new to Biffy Clyro's music as I have been following them ever since 'The Vertigo of Bliss'. That was a great album, as was its follow-up, 'Infinity Land', even if it was a little disjointed at times.
All these reviews which are saying that Biffy Clyro have sold-out and so on, I would disagree as they have just used a different approach. Fair enough, the screaming has gone, and the heaviness is turned down at times, but that doesn't mean that BC are the worse for it. In fact, I think they're better as they show more of a variation in their music.
The opener, 'Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies', is a great track. Filled to the brim with epic grandeur, complete with baroque orchestra and all, even if 90 odd seconds at the beginning are repetitive. "Time's what we don't have, everywhere I look someone dies; wonder when it's my turn.." Simon Neil asks in the chorus. 9/10.
Track two, 'Saturday Superhouse', could well have been written by the Foo Fighters, but it wasn't. That's not a bad thing, don't get me wrong. A lot of people think it is. This is a great track, and so what if BC have swapped complex prog rock for catchy hooks and a more melodic approach? I think it's just another avenue they explore. This is a great song. 10/10.
Track three, 'Who's Got A Match', is the shortest track on the album at under two and a half minutes. Not a standout but it's a good old stomp your foot rock number. Short and sweet. 8/10.
Track four is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It's called 'As Dust Dances', and it's epic, with its soaring riffs and the continued emphasis on the word 'bigger' in the chorus helps this. "Now, it's bigger than us...it's bigger than anything it decides to touch..." Neil sings. At the end of this song is a short interlude, referred to only as "2/15ths". It's a short(ish) piano riff, slightly progressive maybe, hinting at Pink Floyd possibly. It's a beautiful piece and an integral part of the album, as you will find out. 10/10.
Track five, 'A Whole Child Ago' has a slight element of punk in it, it must be said. It's great, and the chorus is naturally the pinnacle of the song. The lyrics are cryptic and often don't make much sense, maybe trying to be too clever- for example: "I'm the second avalon you're right, or left with an eyeball.....melting out the corner of my mouth...". That puzzles me slightly, but it might be part of the album anyway. 9/10.
Track six, 'The Conversation Is...', is a good track, probably specifically meant for release or otherwise I feel it is one of the weaker offerings on the album. That's not to say it's poor as the album's scope is such that no track is a bad track. It's so consistent. This song could very well be a future release as it has that single feel about it somehow. 8/10.
Track seven, 'Now I'm Everyone', is another great track, but hints at BC's progressive roots again. There is an interlude in the middle of the song with constant guitaring over and over for probably near a minute and you wonder where the song is going. However, it explodes into life soon after and an anthemic finale is guaranteed as the band sing in unison 'This is the one' repeatedly. Whatever 'the one' is is something that isn't very obvious. That's what makes this album so fascinating. 9/10.
Track eight, 'Semi-Mental' is clever. Very clever, in fact. Another part of the 'puzzle'. Another 'Foo-ish' track, with a great riff. The clever bit is the chorus. "You're trying to light up my life, now I'm just sentimental," is what Neil sings. He's playing on words. That is obviously done on purpose. 'Sentimental' sounds very similar to 'semi-mental', but he's created an anagram out of it. And even more ingeniously, the second interlude follows this as "4/15ths" is played as a piano comes in. The lyrics are clever as always, a sign of a good prog band. 10/10.
Track nine, 'Love Has A Diameter', is another anthem. The lyrics again are weird, but poetic at the same time. "I'm watching the radio...but it's the television looking at me." Neil sings. "Feathers will fly if you shoot a bulletful of bubblegum at my throat or my heart protected by a hummingbird...." are probably the most puzzling few lines in the song and maybe the whole album. 9/10.
Track ten, 'Get F***** Stud', is a great track again. This alum is overflowing with consistency. The opening riff is typical BC. My favourite line is on this song: "Oh my distorted smile will tighten its grip...'- I think it's brilliant. This, it must be said is a song which isn't for the over-sensitive as there are pretty explicit lyrics here, although it has to be said, it's the only song like that on the album. I don't think it makes a difference as in my opinion, it's one of the strongest tracks on the album. 10/10.
Track eleven, 'Folding Stars', is a contender for the song of 2007. It is outstanding in every way. Lyrically, musically, technically...it has it all. Possibly the most 'Foo Fighters-ish' track here, although it's unfair of me to compare, as the two bands are very different. It's just that this is one of the songs which has the Foos' sound. "I would do anything for another minute with you, 'cause it's not getting easier," Neil mourns as he sings about his mother. It's a poignant moment as the lyrics portray him as a vulnerable, raw person who talks like all has been taken away from him. And quite possibly it has. It's the song of a broken man. However the song is brilliant. 10/10.
Track twelve, and the final piece of the 'puzzle', is called '9/15ths'. Neil sings: "We're on a hellslide, help us, help us, we're on a hellslide..." constantly, accompanied by a baroque orchestra as towards the end it sounds dramatic and has a horror-theme to it. The lyrics from '4/15ths' are sung at one point, before the song builds to a dramatic crescendo and ends abruptly.
Track thirteen, 'Machines' portrays Simon Neil's feelings impressively. It's another poignant moment. He sings: "I've started falling apart, I'm not savouring life; I've forgotten how good it could be to feel alive,". Stripped to the bare bones in its musical form as an all-acoustic track, and has nothing except Neil's vocals accompanying the song, and a violin playing in the background towards the end of the song. This shows how BC have become such a great band, when they can write songs like this. Magnificent. 10/10.
So, 'Puzzle' is triumphant, and frankly, I'm perplexed how some people have missed the point of this album. Having lost his mother, Simon Neil obviously has a new perspective on life, and it has obviously affected his songwriting, for the better in my opinion.
So before slating this album, consider one thing. Think of how much of an impact the loss of Neil's mother has had, as it is clearly obvious in the lyrics.
However the album is a pleasant surprise...it is admittedly their most accessible album to date, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as BC maintain some of their originality while exploring further avenues.
Standout tracks: Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies, Saturday Superhouse, As Dust Dances, Semi-Mental, Get F***** Stud, Machines.
on 3 August 2014
The mighty Biffy on the verge of greatness with this album and a taster for what has come since. Amazing song writing and lyrics and a must have album that ranks alongside Nirvana's Nevermind for me.....MON THE BIFF!
on 20 May 2007
Because this album leaked in the last week, i was very lucky to be able to get it downloaded on my itunes. It was of course a big moral decision to succumb to temptation rather than wait for the actual release date, but to be honest, Ive waited far too long. But blimey, this is certainly worth the wait.
The first thing I noticed was the sound of this album differs very much from their past work. Rather than the quirkiness and the heaviness that we got from their 2004 masterpiece "Infinity Land", this album is overall much brighter and accesible, yet at the same time fantastically varied. Saturday Superhouse and The Conversation Is... for example display how well Biffy can work their trademark guitar into some rather poppy tunes, but at the same time, there are alot of emotive heartfelt songs such as Machines, and of course Folding Stars which is a tribute to frountman Simon Neil's late mother. Because of this, Puzzle contains what I found some of the most raw and emotive of Biffy's lyrics.
Saying that all of Puzzle is more accessable would be a lie, however, as songs like Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies and 9/15ths display the epic quality that their fans are so used to. So yes, this is quite a different album from their previous offerings in that it probably will appeal to everyone. Every song is strong enough to be a single. But this is certainly not a bad thing. It is fair to say that this may indeed see them reach a commercial high, and it is about time. This I imagine will be the highlight of 2007.
on 4 November 2015
Biffy Clyro's 2007 release, Puzzle, is a highly enjoyable album displaying a broad range that this Scottish trio has to offer in the world of rock music. Not too heavy to alienate those that do not like metal, and not too poppy for those that like their pop music to have some substance, especially with such tracks as 9/15ths and Machines.
For anyone that wants to get in this band's repertoire have picked a really good album to get started with, as this has oozes of appeal that will please veteran rock fans, as well as those that newcomers to this brand of indie rock music.
on 13 December 2007
Many people have already said what I am trying to articulate here, but to be honest - this is more for me, I want to understand why I don't like this album.
Wait a minute... I DO like this album... it's actually quite good, it is well rounded and there are no terrible tracks. Many are very enjoyable.
I think it was best put by those who speak of this album's instant likeabilty, compared to the previous albums taking a while to appreciate.
I have owned the first three for a long time now, and despite much listening, on occasion I am STILL finding myself suddenly going "what the hell?! since when was that song SO amazing - how did I miss this before??".
Whereas I bought "Puzzle" on the first day and listened to it several times during the day, and since then my opinions and feelings about the songs have barely changed. I feel there is just not that much depth - especially compared to the older albums, which (for me) showed progressively more depth each release.
Many people have cited this as a return to "Blackened Sky" in terms of being a more simple pop record. I would argue it goes FURTHER backwards to previously uncharted (by Biffy) realms of simple and ordinary. For, although it may appear simple pop on first glance, there is something - the seeds of later albums' madness - going on with "Blackened Sky". People seem upset by the lyrics on "Puzzle", but come on - look at the lyrics on "Blackened Sky", some of them are sooooooo sentimental that they border on cheese BUT it is ok because the first three albums have a certain dark edge (my friend says they make him feel "uneasy"!) which has been completely abandoned along with the wonderful experimentation that basically along with the wonderful vocals made up the unique appeal of Biffy Clyro.
With all of these ingredients but the vocals stripped away people are not far off in thier comparisons to the more bland moments off the Foos and Fall Out Boy. If I had never heard the other albums, I imagine I would really like "Puzzle", but it would not make Biffy one of my top bands (as all three of their other albums did - I cannot decide which I like best they are all phenomenal).
So there we are.
Oh, one thing that REALLY did make me angry: "Asexual Meat Kitchen". For those who do not know, to old Biffy fans, this was one of the most promising "new tracks" prior to "Puzzle's" release. I can forgive it not being on the album, I guess it didn't really fit (it was REALLY good). I was appeased when I heard it was released on a single. I was then APPALLED when I heard the shoddy, thrown together production and the AWFUL vocals provided by the guy from "The Bronx" instead of Biffy - WHAT!?!?!?
Biffy Clyro, how could you treat your (amazingly devoted) old school following with such contempt? And Simon, saying that the intro on "Puzzle" blows away the one from "Infinity Land"... no, it REALLY doesn't. The intro to "Glitter and Trauma" was original and awesome, the beginning of "Living's a Problem" is overblown and unless it's live, after the first listen is REEEEAAALLY annoying!
I must confess to being new to the band, having never heard of Biffy Clyro before. I can't believe this is their fourth album! And I only chanced upon Puzzle, buying it on the back of one song I saw performed live on tv (Folding Stars) which I liked. So I took a real gamble in buying this album but the risk paid off becuase it's a fantastic album.
Puzzle is interesting and has many layers to it with plenty of variety between the songs. The lyrics are quite abstract but the songs are accessible. I really like every track on Puzzle but the best are Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (although the intro is too long - would have been better having the opening 90 seconds as a separate track), Saturday Superhouse, Whole Child Ago, Conversation Is and Folding Stars. I love the closing acoustic track, Machines - it's a tender and emotive track, and excellent way to end the album.
Just a note - I think it's worth paying a couple of extra £s for the limtied edtion version if you can get your hands on it. It also contains a bonus track called Drop It (an excellent little folk song - a bit of a departure from the rest of the album but still absolutely fantastic) and a bonus DVD with 3 music videos and 45 minute documentary. The packaging is also better - a nice fold-out cardboard case instead of the generic jewel CD case.
Overall I'm very impressed with Puzzle and since buying it I haven't been able to stop listening to it. It's angsty and tender in equal measures but always accessible; I suppose you could call their sound "grunge-esque" but it's not a messy or bland as that - the songs are more melodic and progressive-sounding than the now-dated grunge sound could ever manage. Biffy Clyro provide very nicely structured songs with shed loads of variety between tracks. There's no doubt this band have talent and are very accomplished at what they do. The vocals are excellent, the lyrics are thought-provoking (in an abstract way) and although there are no solos whatsoever the music is exciting and accomplished. I've heard this album is up for 4 Kerrang awards including Best British Band and Best Album and deservedly so in my opinion. Puzzle is an excellent album and will almost certainly prove to be one of the very best rock albums of 2007 if not the best. 5/5
on 2 September 2014
Ok I admit it, this is the album that got me into Biffy Clyro, but when you hear the tracks you easily hear the reason why. The album opens up with 'Living is a problem becasue everything dies' which starts off really slow and quite and then bursts in whith incredibule music playing. Which makes this diffrent in a way to other Biffy albums. But thats the point, the band wanted to do something diffrent, they wanted to take there sound and do something new, and it payed off. It still has a bit of there old sound there but it works so well into the new fresh soun that they have defeloped for this album.
The tracks on this album sound so well structured so well crafted that you can easily see why this is the album that boosted there fan base and has turned them into a house hold name. And why this album has won so many awards.
Tracks you should listern to on this album are, Saturday superhouse, Semi-Mental, Love has a Diameter, Folding starts and Machines. All these tracks just show how far this band has come.
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
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.
on 7 August 2007
It seems inevitable in every band's career that they release an album that divides opinion, an album that separates fans into 'old' and 'new' camps and, also inevitably, this album gains the band a new level of success. 'Puzzle' is this album in every sense.
In the years between 'Infinity Land' and this release, Simon Neil began to express in interviews his desire to write a 'pop' record this time around. This brought forth no concern from me personally, as I've always considered 'Blackened Sky' to be a pop album, albeit quite a loud one.
'Semi-Mental' was the first single to emerge from 'Puzzle' as a download-only release, and it only served to confirm my earlier opinion that Biffy could write a great pop album. Filtering out the wilfully experimental (but admittedly great) aspects of both 'Infinity Land' and 'The Vertigo Of Bliss' it was immediate, to the point and promised much. So when the album followed 'Saturday Superhouse' and 'Living Is A Problem...' on to the radio and into the charts, the common consensus among media types (it even got 8/10 in the NME?!) was that Biffy had delivered upon all the promise of earlier records and tours.
I have tried so hard to love this record, I lived with it in my cd player for months, ignored all the radio superlatives and played it over and over to gain an opinion that I could call my own. Following this, the most praise I can offer i that they did indeed write a pop record. But not in the catchy, immediate, stay-in-your-head-for-days way of the best pop songs; instead what we have here is safe, disposable, uninspired filler that reeks of a thousand other bands. The singles stand head and shoulders above the rest, with only '9/15ths' offering any sign of the creativity we've grown used to Biffy Clyro having in spades. 'Folding Stars' is particularly awful, and though Simon Neil deserves some credit for attempting to address his feelings surrounding his Mother's death, the music is devoid of any feeling whatsoever, a Foo Fighters by numbers travesty rendered even more soulless by stifling production techniques and irritating 'whoah oh oh' backing vocals that even My Chemical Romance would reject for being too cheesy. But that sounds like some kind of second coming when you've already had the misfortune to sit through 'Who's Got A Match'. That is simply the worst song they have ever written, probably the worst rock song I will hear all year, and if Queens Of The Stone Age aren't preparing to sue right now, then they must be one of the lucky ones that are still yet to hear it.
So there you go. I gave one of my favourite bands a one-star review. If you love this album, chances are you've already clicked the 'unhelpful' button and declined to read what I wrote, but you should know that I tried, I really did. And if it helps, I think the cover's awesome.