“Riding high on the commercial success of their last record, they are looking to cement their place in the stratosphere of stadium rock by releasing double album…”
Biffy Clyro | Opposites
Album sales have been in steady decline throughout the last decade. The slow and painful death of HMV only highlights the true depths of the level they have now sunk too. The days when the Gods of Rock would parade around the planet in their private jets devouring everything in site are long gone. And with it the gigantically oversized self-indulging double concept album. Or so we thought.
Step forward Biffy Clyro. Riding high on the commercial success of their last record, Only Revolutions, they are looking to cement their place in the stratosphere of stadium rock by releasing double album, Opposites. From the outside it seems like a bold move, and only one a band with an abundance of banging tracks would even try. On the other hand it could just be a clever marketing trick. Why bother pumping a load of money into two albums that won’t sell, just do a double. Either way it seems the record company cannot lose.
What soon becomes clear when listening to the record is whoever made the decision seems to have misjudged it. The material, unfortunately, just isn’t strong enough. The first half floats past your ears with a group of songs that don’t veer far enough away from a standard formula. A slow build-up that leads into a chorus aimed at the masses in attendance at the festivals. This may have helped them gain an army of fans but, surely, to keep those same fans interested more diversity is required.
The pop elements – of which Biffy Clyro have been honing to greater effect with each release – now become too overpowering, resulting in the lack of a decent riff. This is apparent on the second track ‘Black Chandelier’ which is inoffensive but lacks any sort of passion, perfect for plenty of airplay from the likes of Fearne Cotton. When lead singer Simon Neil sings “I’ll sit in silence for the rest of my life, if you like” it almost makes you feel he should. Maybe not for the rest of his life, but at least long enough to come up with a more original song.
At least the second disc serves up greater variety. The first two songs – ‘Stingin’ Belle’ and ‘Modern Magic Formula’ – have more bite and urgency to them before leading into ‘Spanish Radio’ which starts off with some mariachi horns, before they rapidly fade and with them any chance of a surprise. When they return they are only in the background where it would have been bolder to have them as the driving force. That is the problem with much of the album, there is a distinct lack of experimentation that the depth of a double album should allow.
The idea of a good concept album is to take you out the comfort zone, it is also a good opportunity to have a bit of fun. Neither of these is achieved with any sort of vigour, and without being told it is a concept album the thought would not have even entered your mind. Unfortunately, when summing up Opposites you can’t help but fall back on the criticism of so many double albums before it: they should have slimmed it down to a standard single album. That is all this collection of songs warrants.