Biffy Clyro - Puzzle
Robert Macpherson 03/06/2007
Biffy Clyro certainly are no strangers to the concept of puzzles. Their three previous albums are an ode to patchwork rock and roll with their songs running the gamut from hardcore metal to introspective ballads to dance floor techno. The missing piece of the jigsaw however has always been mainstream acclaim, not that you could tell from seeing them perform. Chants of 'Mon the Biffy' may echo in venues nationwide as armies of fans carry the Scottish trio on their shoulders from show to show, but to many Biffy Clyro are still a mystery, an enigma, a puzzle.
Right from the outset Biffy Clyro demonstrate their ability to treat audio dynamics as their own personal playground. The whisper-quiet guitar that opens the album is juxtaposed by alarming orchestral strikes, like beats of a marching drum making its ominous journey over Hadrian's Wall. When all three members are in attack mode one must always be prepared. Songs like 'Who's Got A Match' bop along happily until our twelve-limbed troop throw themselves headfirst into a chasm of distorted chaos. Riffs become weapons with choruses offering no reprieve. Re-arm, reload, fire!
Throughout the album Biffy prove to their fans that they are back with a vengeance. Songs like 'Semi Mental' and 'Saturday Superhouse' leave lasting impressions long after the heads stop banging whereas the calming breeze reminiscent of 2003 relative-hit-single 'Questions & Answers' blows through 'Puzzle's thirteen tracks. There is still evidence of the unique risk-taking that made Biffy Clyro so distinctive with odd time signatures rearing their scratched heads in the most unexpected places and a Gregorian choir chanting over penultimate track '9/15ths'.
Despite all this, 'Puzzle' is not an avant-garde extravaganza. There is plenty of evidence showing that the trio have discovered a more accommodating side of themselves to complete their jigsaw. It's in the Brandon Boyd Californian harmonies that proliferate the album; it's in the predictably pleasing Foo Fighters chorus chord changes and in the jolly guitar scales of We Are Scientists-esque 'A Whole Child Ago'. Finally the image is complete, ready to be thrust onto the world stage, but one inevitably wonders if long-term fans will see a benefit of this compromise.