Newest Review: ... The lyrics are abstract as usual, but there is something about the vocal performance and precisely timed blending in of the backing ... more
Only Revolutions - Biffy Clyro
Member Name: zombieflesh
Only Revolutions - Biffy Clyro
Date: 30/01/13, updated on 31/01/13 (73 review reads)
Advantages: epic song writing, poetic lyrics, killer choruses, stand-out singles
Disadvantages: some lows and lulls that bring down the overall flow of the album
Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock band, and "Only Revolutions" is their fifth studio album released back in 2009. Their newest album was put out just last week so I've revisited this CD to get back into their music again before purchasing the latest release. You can buy a new copy of "Only Revolutions" from www.amazon.co.uk for less than £5.00, and this is a worthwhile piece to add to any music collection. Despite their chart successes, Biffy Clyro seem to remain relatively unknown to the masses, and discovering them was a rare treat as their style is delightfully unique.
1. "The Captain" 3:43
The opening track to the album does a good job of capturing your attention from the start and inviting you in to listen to what will follow. It also sets the trend for the one of the main features throughout "Only Revolutions", and that is the killer chorus. As fits with Biffy's usual style, "The Captain" is quite lyrically creative. It doesn't really get going for me though until the chorus kicks in, with beautifully harmonised backing vocals that will definitely have you singing along.
2. "That Golden Rule" 3:49
This next track kicks things up a notch with heavier guitars and even a slight hint of punk flavouring with the yelling / chanting backing vocals. This song is energetic and melodic in turn, before developing into a dramatic instrumental section for the grand finale.
3. "Bubbles" 5:01
Bubbles is not only my favourite song from this album, but also ranked somewhere up there with my all-time favourite tracks ever. It showcases a combination of different stylistic pieces, beginning with a very simplistic background and lyrics arranged like rhyming couplets. This is a nod to Biffy Clyro's poetic song writing techniques. The song then develops with some fancier guitar skills through the bridge, before moving onto the highlight of the piece, which is of course the chorus. The lyrics are abstract as usual, but there is something about the vocal performance and precisely timed blending in of the backing vocals which makes this seem really emotive and I personally have found it quite moving particularly when performed live, as the vocals are so passionate and the imagery is vividly portrayed. The only down side is that the song then finishes off with a prolonged instrumental section which doesn't seem to go anywhere and merely drags on, ruining the previous mood.
4. "God & Satan" 3:09
"God & Satan" takes the album in another direction and features a much slower tempo with stripped back guitars and gentle vocals. The lyrics are the most important part of the song in this case, featuring a philosophical debate between the powers that may be above and below. Although this is a much softer song than you might expect from a rock band, it is powerful in its effect and shows some intelligent song writing skills have been applied to put across something very meaningful in a minimalistic way.
5. "Born on a Horse" 2:49
I think that this song jars against the previous one as it is so different in tone. This is a really quirky song that takes a comical look at Americans and their silly ways. I don't particularly like it as it lacks the catchy tune or sing-along lyrics that make the other tracks so appealing. A bit of a dud that in my opinion just doesn't fit with the rest of the album.
6. "Mountains" 3:21
This is one of the strongest tracks on the album. "Mountains" has a steady rhythmic backing that then blooms into a full-on epic chorus. The lyrics are full of creative imagery and delivered in a powerful, emotional way. You will want to sing or shout along! This was one of the better known single releases and I think it really shows off the band's unique style to full effect.
7. "Shock Shock" 3:03
Here we go back to more of a classic alternative rock style, with some strong guitar riffs and almost aggressive sounding lyrics. As a bit of a twist, the verses are faster paced with a heavier sound, and the chorus is softer and more melodic. Usually a softer verse will build up to a stronger chorus so this interesting choice gives a fresh sound to the track.
8. "Many of Horror" 4:18
"Many of Horror" is probably Biffy's most widely known track, as it was selected to be covered by X Factor winner Matt Cardle who then secured the Christmas number 1 slot with his version of the single back in 2010. I'm not sure why this song was chosen, but it was an interesting choice. The song was renamed "When We Collide" taking another of the lyrics from the song, possibly to make it sound more appealing to a wider audience. Amusingly, it's hard to discern the title lyric in Biffy's version, as his lovely Scottish accent turns it into "many of harrrrrr"! This is a finely crafted song which tackles the subject of a destructive relationship in a raw way. It is easy to connect with this song, and the toned down style allows you to focus on the meaning of the lyrics. I think it's a real shame that the original version of this song did not receive the same high status as the cover version, as it is a beautiful piece of work.
9. "Booooom, Blast & Ruin" 3:16
Another jump back into the dirtier, rock side of "Only Revolutions". This is quite a jaunty track with catchy guitar riffs and some charmingly bizarre lyrics thrown into the mix. Unfortunately, it has the hard task of following "Many of Horror", and doesn't seem to match up in terms of quality meaning that it seems more like filler material which is disappointing as I would usually expect the final few songs on an album to increase to a climactic high point, whereas this song comes across as being a bit meaningless.
10. "Cloud of Stink" 2:55
Picking up again, "Cloud of Stink" is a decent offering with a faster beat and a bit of a darker tone to it. The delivery of the lyrics is a little different as well, seeming edgier than the softer more melodic style in previous songs. I think this is a good catchy track which brings the pace back up and helps to re-engage my interest in the rest of the album.
11. "Know Your Quarry" 3:29
There is nothing about this song that stands out as being particularly special, but for some reason I still love it. I think that the lyrics appeal to the romantic side of my nature, and it has a nice uplifting feel which moves towards a positive close to the album. Diverting from their usual rock style, this song features an orchestral string section which adds another element to the album and shows how diverse their sound can be.
12. "Whorses" 3:55
The final piece is an average track all round. Things only really improve when it reaches the chorus and the guitars ramp up the energy levels. I like the lyrics here, they are as catchy and poetic as ever but the track just doesn't really deliver and I lose interest through the slower paced sections. Not the best ending, especially seeing as the track literally just dies out without a proper conclusion.
Overall, "Only Revolutions" is arguably a great album with some moments of pure genius. Unfortunately for me, the album as a whole is let down by some unnecessarily meandering lulls which stop the powerful flow of this music. When I listen to this album I really ride along with the highs and find it quite evocative and emotive, but as the album progresses it gets "stuck" with low sections bringing those feelings down, and this means that I am effectively just waiting for the next song to come on, or for the build up to reach one of their rousing choruses. I'm really looking forward to checking out their new release, and would definitely recommend looking up "Only Revolutions" as well, particularly for the singles which were well chosen as stand-out tracks from the album.
Summary: Only Revolutions