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Music / Biffy Clyro

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Biffy Clyro (left to right: James Johnston, Simon Neil and Ben Johnston)

"Hello, we're Biffy fucking Clyro."
Simon Neil, every show

Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock band from Kilmarnock, formed in 1995. They’re known for having a unique sound that combines anthemic alt-rock, post-hardcore, progressive rock and, in their earlier work, grunge. After building up a cult following with their first three albums, the band expanded their fanbase significantly with the release of their fourth, Puzzle, in 2007, which went gold in the UK. Biffy Clyro's popularity was built upon further in 2008 and 2009 with the release of the singles "Mountains" and "That Golden Rule".

Their best known album, Only Revolutions, reached #3 in the UK chart and went gold within days of its release in 2009, later going platinum in 2010 and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. In December 2010 they were especially brought to notice of mainstream after their song "Many of Horror" was covered as the winner's single in The X Factor by Matt Cardle.

The band consists of:

  • Simon Neil (guitar, lead vocals)
  • James Johnston (bass, vocals)
  • Ben Johnston (drums, vocals)

Their albums are:

  • Blackened Sky (2002)
  • The Vertigo of Bliss (2003)
  • Infinity Land (2004)
  • Puzzle (2007)
  • Only Revolutions (2009)
  • Opposites (2013)
  • Ellipsis (2016)
  • Balance, Not Symmetry (2019)note 
  • A Celebration of Endings (2020)
  • The Myth of the Happily Ever After (2021)

Biffy Clyro provides examples of:

  • Always Identical Twins: James and Ben. Though they're more likely to be fraternal twins - Ben's gone bald, while James has (so far) retained a full head of hair (although if you look at earlier photos, taken when Ben still had hair, it's incredibly difficult to tell them apart).
  • Album Title Drop: Played straight on Blackened Sky opener "Joy. Discovery. Invention" and on “Witch’s Cup” from The Myth of the Happily Ever After. Inverted on Puzzle, which has the name drop on b-side "Scared of Lots of Everything".
  • Animated Music Video: "Wolves of Winter".
  • The Captain is a song from Only Revolutions.
  • Careful with That Axe: Frequently.
  • Distinct Double Album: The second half of Opposites is intended to have a more positive outlook than the dark first half.
  • Emo: A few of Biffy's earlier songs such as 57, Just Boy and 27 could be considered emo, more in the vein of Far, Mineral or the late '90s early 2000's post hardcore scene than emo pop.
  • Epic Rocking: "Time as an Imploding Unit/Waiting for Green" goes on for almost ten minutes. Other long tracks include "Being Gabriel" (6:20), "Kill the Old, Torture Their Young" (6:12), "All the Way Down: Prologue/Chapter 1" (6:43), "Corfu" (6:29), "Fever Dream" (6:12) and "Cop Syrup" (6:17).
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Happens towards the end of "Stingin' Belle".
  • Fanservice: The video for "The Captain". And how.
    • They usually perform live without shirts on, so most concerts may be a source of this.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Big Imagine For Feeling Young Cos Life Yearns Real Optimism", featured on official merchandise.
  • Grief Song: "Folding Stars", about Simon's late mother.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Especially on "That Golden Rule".
  • Long Runner Lineup: Type 1, having been constant since 1995.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Howl" is incredibly catchy, but it's about the narrator admitting that he's an arsehole.
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: There are a couple of instances of adding "'s" at the end of a word since the word "is" on its own wouldn't fit with the tune. This results in lines like "All we have's diseased organs" from "Victory Over the Sun", and "My grave concern's I can't ignore the past" from "Howl", which don't sound quite right when you say them out loud.
  • Mushroom Samba: Implied in "A Day Of..."
    And then it starts
    The trip of a lifetime
    (Our spaceship up against yours)
  • New Sound Album: Biffy started off as a plucky little post-hardcore band. Then Puzzle introduced elements of anthemic alternative rock, creating a more melodic sound which was fully realised on Only Revolutions.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The song "Cloud of Stink" from Only Revolutions.
    • "Saturday Superhouse" from Puzzle.
    • "Toys, Toys, Toys, Choke, Toys, Toys Toys" from Vertigo of Bliss.
    • It's fair to say that many, many of their songs have these.
    • Sometimes subverted, as some songs have incredibly bizarre titles you wouldn't think would fit in the songs - yet they do.
  • "Number of Objects" Title: "9/15ths".
  • [Popular Saying], But...: Has this in the pre-chorus of "Instant History": "Hell hath no fury like a human born."
  • Precision F-Strike: "Shock, Shock": "You talk and you talk like you're trying to shun me, I don't even know what the FUCK we're still arguing about."
    • "Solution Devices": "Our turn, our turn, fuck you and all your games."
    • "Get Fucked Stud".
    • "Sounds Like Balloons" has the line: "Ancient Rome, they built that fucker stone by stone."
    • A particularly effective one on "Fever Dream": "WELL WHERE THE FUCK IS GOD?"
    • A repeated refrain in “Cop Syrup”, and indeed the final line of A Celebration of Endings, is “Fuck everybody! Woo!”.
  • Protest Song: “The Champ” rails against reactionaries who talk about how “it was better in my day”.
    You broke every little thing that you built
    You lost every little thing that you always cherished, and more
    You took every little breath that it took
    Don’t analyse, just realise, you can’t keep us at bay
  • Pun-Based Title: “Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep” is a play on bubblegum pop hit “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep”.
  • Rock Trio
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies".
  • Shout-Out: Their album Only Revolutions was named after the book of the same name, written by Mark Z. Danielewski.
    The nice thing is that it's a story told from two points of view and Simon got married last year and I think it's a love record in that regard, it's about his relationship with his new wife. A lot of it is about trying to take arguments from somebody else's point of view and be able to see two sides of the picture. I guess a lot of it is about the revolutions in life and revolutions in relationships and those sort of things, just the stuff everyone goes through at different points in their life.
    James Johnston
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: By their own admission, "Questions and Answers" is a "wee pop song" which stands out alongside the alternate time signatures and screaming vocals of Vertigo of Bliss.
  • Title by Number: "27", "57".
  • Title Track: "Balance, Not Symmetry". Opposites almost has one in a track called "Opposite", while one of the B-sides on the "Many of Horror" EP is called "Lonely Revolutions".
  • Word Purée Title: Name origin theories are abundant, and the band has never given a single official explanation.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Many, many of their songs don't make much sense, especially if you take them literally, though most are deliberately left open to interpretation. However, even the songs that are actually about something would sound bizarre to anyone who isn't a committed fan.
    • Generally averted by A Celebration of Endings and The Myth of the Happily Ever After. Some of the tracks were inspired by personal and real world events, and, as a result, feature some of Simon Neil’s most direct songwriting.

I’ve been punching rainbows since ‘79
It’s self-preservation
Baby, I’m scorched earth, you’re hearts and minds
Fuck everybody! Woo!