Ellipsis review by Biffy Clyro

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  • Released: Jul 8, 2016
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 7 (21 votes)
Biffy Clyro: Ellipsis

Sound — 7
"Ellipsis" is the follow up to the Scottish alt rock band Biffy Clyro's 2013 double album, "Opposites." Speaking to Lowe, singer Simon Neil said: "We're saying something new with our seventh album... We're trying to feel like it's our first album again. We've still got balls. We're still here to get in your face."

I consider this to be a fairly accurate description of the album. While some songs still are classic "in-your-face" Biffy Clyro (heavily distorted guitars, combining alt rock/pop with hints of metal, high energy, fast tempo's, epic vocals, etc.), there is a feeling of stepping off in a new direction with "Ellipsis," as if it were their first album all over again. The only problem I have with this is that it feels at times as if it is their first album as a different band.

Simon Neil's vocal effort on this album is just as strong as on "Puzzle," "Only Revolutions," and "Opposites." In fact, I feel that the focus on this album is primarily on melody/vocals; there is also a large contribution of backup vocals from Ben and James Johnston. Because of this, the instrumentals are not as strong as on past albums. Although still being guitar driven, these songs feel more folk and sometimes pop-influenced ("Friends and Enemies," "Re-Arrange," "Medicine," "Flammable," "Small Wishes," "People"), often making use of acoustic guitars and synthesizers.

Also, any fan of Biffy Clyro's previous three studio albums ("Puzzle," "Only Revolutions," "Opposites") will still enjoy the sound of "Ellipsis." The production value is just as high; many of these songs could easily have appeared on "Opposites" ("Animal Style," "Herex," "Howl," "People") and "Only Revolutions" ("Wolves of Winter," "On a Bang," "Don't, Won't, Can't," "In the Name of the Wee Man").

Lyrics — 7
"With a friend as good as you, who needs enemies?" - "Friends and Enemies"

"I would never break your heart / I would only re-arrange / All the other working parts / will stay in place" - "Re-Arrange"

"Now you know better / Why can't you fucking do better?" - "On a Bang"

"You don't, you won't, you can't and you never will / you would, you could, you should but you never do" - "Don't, Won't, Can't"

Lyrics like the above prove that Simon Neil is a clever lyricist. In combination with the punchy and emotion-packed choruses that often house these lines, Biffy Clyro proves that they are one of the most original alternative rock bands out there.

On the downside however, Simon Neil is also often guilty of writing "cringe-worthy" lyrics. On "Ellipsis," an example of this comes from the song "Medicine," with the lyrics: "Why can't this be love? / Tell me why can't this be love? / ... I shouldn't waste my time having you around ... / So Swallow your problems," etc. Another example comes from "Small Wishes" with the lyrics: "The lizard shit / and held it under our nostrils." Enough said!

Overall Impression — 7
Overall, "Ellipsis" feels like a slightly "pop-ier" version of "Opposites." Because of this, it is a great follow up to "Opposites," stepping in a new direction and sounding fresh. Though it is definitely not the best Biffy Clyro album.

On another note, Ben Johnston's overall effort on the drums on this album is slightly disappointing. I have always enjoyed his unique beats and how he makes them fit with Simon Neil's rhythmically unique riffs. There is definitely not as much of this on "Ellipsis." Though to be fair, I was unhappy with the instrumental effort overall, not just with the drums. If you want some cool drums, "Wolves of Winter" along with the two bonus tracks are decent drum tracks.

"Ellipsis" does not have much in common with Biffy's first three albums so I will not compare it to them. Though, I can say that I prefer "Ellipsis" over "Puzzle." If I lost this album, "Only Revolutions," and "Opposites" and could only buy back two of the three, I would buy back "Only Revolutions" and "Opposites."

Songs to check out? "Wolves of Winter," "Animal Style," "Flammable," "On a Bang," "Don't, Won't, Can't," and "In the Name of the Wee Man."

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I also felt like some of the lyrics were kinda... squeezed out just to have something. Musically a great piece though
    Album strong, not their best but a solid effort. I'm satisfied with it! Also In the Name of the Wee Man = one of the best songs they've ever released. Cracker!
    after many takes, I still have mixed feelings about this record - it is definitely NOT their best effort, sadly I actually feel like it could be their WORST to date. The poppier sound is evident though I don't really mind songs like "Friends and enemies" or "Re-arrange" which are the better ones from the catalogue. "Wolves of Winter", "On a Bang" and - chiefly - "Animal Style" are the main highlights brimming with energy, I think AS is actually one of the best songs Biffy have ever written. But then you have those like "Herex" or "Flammable" which aren't necessarily bad, but although they're upbeat they're just missing the joy-discovery-invention you would expect from songs on Biffy's studio album. "Small Wishes" and "Howl" sound okay, but again, are they really worthy a place on a studio record? Let me remind you that this band has released plenty of b-side records with kick-ass songs that just were not great enough to make it on the final cut. On "Ellipsis", I often feel like half of the songs sound like good Biffy b-sides at best. The main thing I dislike about the new record is not the poppier sound, I'm not against bands experimenting, as long as the experiment doesn't turn out to be a complete disaster. And "Ellipsis" is not really a disaster, but it just isn't as balanced and tight as previous records. You have a bunch of brilliant songs mainly at the first half and at the same time some really dull ones, which may have their moments but cannot really compare with the former. Last words, I have to admit Simon's vocals are undoubtedly a constant highlight of the record. Especially during the heavy songs you can once again hear his peculiar screams, which wasn't a usual thing on Puzzle, Only Revolutions and Opposites. The band actually managed to kinda transfer their live sound to some of these songs, which is a big plus. Also, "In the Name of the Wee Man" should have definitely made it to the final cut. What a rocker!