When Biffy Clyro left their old life behind and penned a deal with Warner Brothers in 2006 some fans called them sell outs. The other way of looking at this is that Biffy had earned the right to sell more records and widen their fanbase having scrapped around for the previous 10 years with limited success.
With their major label move so too came a softening in their music. Whilst ‘Puzzle’, their major label debut, was hardly a new blueprint it brought with it a poppier feel and choruses which would fill amphitheatres rather than dingy clubs.
And so ‘Only Revolutions’ feels like the second part of the puzzle (if you’ll excuse the pun). Front man Simon Neil has developed a penchant for a big chorus and and its only too evident in lead off track ‘The Captain’. “Somebody help me sing, wooo-oooh-oooah”, is the Biffy boys call to arms and they produce a typically punchy opener with more than a hint of grandiose drama amid the brass sections and biting guitar lines.
If Biffy are to become our very own Scottish version of the Foo Fighters it will be tracks like ‘Mountains’ which parody the sing-along choruses of ‘Everlong’. It ranks as Biffy’s biggest and perhaps best ever single – in years to come casual Biffy fans will come to arena shows to hear Neil screaming “I am a mountain / I am the sea / you can’t take that away from me!”
The aforementioned softening is evident in tracks like ‘Booooom, Blast and Ruin’ and ‘God and Satan’. Both have always been in Biffy’s locker but it’s taken the pressure of success to bring them to the fore.
Biffy ensure the hardcore fans are satisfied in the pulsating breakdowns which close ‘That Golden Rule’ and the outstanding ‘Bubbles’ where Neil and the Johnston brothers simply rock out amid a wall of sound.
There are still plenty of Biffy’s off-kilter timing and peculiar sounds in tracks like ‘Know Your Quarry’ which soars from an obscure background to a defining chorus. Simply put ‘Only Revolutions’ maintains predictability and unpredictability in equal measure. It’s a step forward, a step up and a genuinely brilliant rock album, bring on the amphitheatres.