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Review: Biffy Clyro – Ellipses

Biffy Clyro took a brief break and now they’ve released a new album.

Ellipsis starts with the anthemic “Wolves of Winter”, a very “rock” track which works well as an opener. From there it moves through rock and some electronica that seems to have been influenced by pop music.

Most of the album is by-the-numbers verse-chorus-verse (with an occasionaly slightly different section thrown in) songs, but there’s some music that works pretty well, such as the closer, “People”. It follows a fairly simple melodic pattern, but it has a rather lush, relaxed sound to it. “Small Wishes” is a fun, small ditty that seems more like it was meant to be an affectionate parody of country music. “On a Bang” is, sans the choruses, a somewhat-frenetic rocker that stands out whilst not feeling out of place.

It’s unfortunate that these moments are marred by songs like the obligatory acoustic-and-strings balladry of “Medicine”, seemingly placed in the middle of the album as though it’s to serve as a breathing point before the remainer, as well as the “funk” influenced “Animal Style” and “Flammable”, sounding as though they’re written to push as singles.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this, but they (as well as other songs) feel as though the band is playing it safe.

The vocals are strong and remain on point and it’s difficult to find fault in delivery.
However, the lyrics needed much more work than it seems like they received.

For instance, when Simon Neil sings ” Cause I would never break your heart / I would only rearrange / all the other working parts / won’t stay in place / Listen to me when I say / Darling you’re my everything / I didn’t mean to hesitate/ please stay with me” on “Re-arrange”, or the seemingly over-serious lines of (IIRC) “life illuminates darkness / all of our sadness / provides us a home / I said I’m going to make you / completely reshape you / make you my own / home is a place I don’t belong / ’cause I’m a man / you should never love / my words are like a bomb” on “People”.
The former is sung in a pseudo-fragile falsetto, whilst the latter is sung with a bit more strength behind it. They both come off as though a teenager with little life experience wrote them and, combined with the delivery, has Simon Neil coming off more desperate and creepy instead of, say, romantic or impassioned.

There are plenty of other moments when the lyrics fall flat or are at odds with the vocal delivery (“I’ve got the rage / always have the rage”, found on “Howl”, whilst working as a nice call-back to “Herex”, feels at odds and almost cringeworthy due to being delievered in a rather happy-sounding tone despite not seemingly not being happy) throughout the album, leaving Ellipses being weaker.

Still, with all this being said, the album as a whole sounds rather fun.
Whilst the album is mostly straightforward and formulaic, the songs are delivered tightly and with great energy, and the choruses are generally pretty catchy.
Most could be sung along to at a festival and the mood does feel lighter than what the lyrics would suggest.

Ellipses isn’t a great album. It might not be a good album.
It’s hard to say as to whether Biffy Clyro have reached their peak, or if this is just a misstep.
Either way, it needed a bit more work.
However, despite sounding fairly reliant on being formulaic and lyrics that sound quite underdeveloped, Ellipses doesn’t feel cynical.
It’s successful as an enjoyable and fun collection of songs.

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