Biffy Clyro: A Celebration of Endings review – smiley vs gnarly

(14th Floor)
The Scottish rock trio deliver an unresolved set of two halves

Written and recorded well before lockdown, the Scottish rock band’s Covid-delayed ninth album ponders life’s full stops and unforeseen handbrake turns. “Weird leisure comes, and all pleasure goes,” Biffy muse. It seems a neat enough piece of relatable foreshadowing until singer Simon Neil starts screaming at someone whose face is “fucking numb” from polishing off their stash of coke. The time signature in the chorus takes pleasure in wrong-footing you.

A Celebration of Endings continues in this vein, never quite settling where you think it might. Biffy Clyro can seem like two bands: a trio whose ringing Gaelic positivity and guitar bluster can shake a festival headline slot, and a gnarlier, more messed-up proposition. So too here: lead single Instant History is a muscular feint towards the mainstream, where pop and EDM intersect; Tiny Indoor Fireworks proffers the kind of broad-spectrum thumbs-uppery (“pray for better days”) that Biffy could have palmed off to any meat-and-potatoes singer-songwriter and no one would have noticed.

Far better are the tunes where spite and screaming take the upper hand. Mid-album, End Of rages over a foundering relationship; there is no loss of melody, but a net gain in low-slung punk bass and tinnitus.

Watch the video for Tiny Indoor Fireworks by Biffy Clyro

Contributor

Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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