Revolution or Mutiny on the Bounty: Biffy Clyro, Only Revolutions

Gone is the piercing jagged shell that once encased Ayrshire screamster darlings Biffy Clyro, storing them safe away from the sycophantic smoothness of the saccharine-sweet conker that is Radio 1, Goal of the Month backing tracks and the dear old NME; the mainstream. Just as Simon Neil’s estranged locks hit the kitchen tiles around the release of critically-acclaimed cross-over behemoth, Puzzle, a few years back, Biffy have fallen from the tree of post-hardcore insanity, smoothing over their once sharpened, glitchy edges and exposing the vulnerable pop sensibilities that perpetually threatened to seep out from day one, back in the days of Blackened Sky (see Justboy, 57 or Joy.Discovery.Invention for signs of live before Mountains recently erupted).

Only Revolutions, the trio’s fifth attempt, is a quizzical listen. Neil somewhat controversially backs conversing with God in equal measure to Satan in order to “hear both sides” on acoustic lullaby and Machines of the record if you will, God & Satan, which goes some way as to cranking open the wealth of hidden intricacies that lace Only Revolutions. There’s a sense of conflicting interests embedded within, the striving for success set against the experimental tendencies and barking lyrics etched all over Infinity Land; Born On A Horse sets squelching synths against pristine guitar sheens and ludicrous lyricisms (“I pronounce it aluminium cos there’s an I next to the U and M” wouldn’t quite scale the top ten summits of Mountains) whereas the climactically frantic string squeals of That Golden Rule shriek with a neck-jerking urgency entirely absent from the power pop pieces of Puzzle, bar its frenetic opener. Quite whether their arena-conquering glistening alt. rock is the divine or the devilish voice piping up at the back of Neil’s mind is far from conclusive; Cloud Of Stink layers the least harmonious of vocals committed to plastic since The Wave Pictures and falls as flat as a leaky post-op Winehouse, whereas the endearing glinting guitar rays of possible chart-pillager Whorses shine supreme. Bubbles floats majestically to the forefront of the record alongside the swashbuckling stomps of The Captain yet filled with contradictions, Only Revolutions is vastly vapid, as Booooom, Blast & Ruin, Know Your Quarry and Shock Shock make about as much impact as a Leon Jackson convention on a drizzly Monday morning in Scarborough.

Far from their ‘finest hour’ Only Revolutions blends the fruits of Biffy’s past labours into an equal-parts sweet and sour concoction, more puzzling than Puzzle, equally as blissful as the convoluted chaos of Vertigo of Bliss yet far brighter from the darkness of a Blackened Sky, there’s not a whole load of Revolution here. Yet nor is there any sense of resolution, leaving the good ship Biffy to sail deeper into unchartered territories yet over the coming years...