Originally posted last December to tie in with their trio of special Barrowland gigs, this post started off as a list of my favourite albums until I thought of something better: asking every other biffy fan for their favourite! Although it was possibly the hardest question any of them could face, there was a great outcome which resulted in one of the most fun pieces of writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of making. So as Infinity Land celebrates its 11th birthday this month and Biffy prepare for their Hogmanay gig, here’s a blast from the past!
2014 has undoubtedly been an important year for Biffy Clyro. Not only have they released another album, B-Side compilation Similarities, but they’ve been extensively touring the world, bringing their unparalleled passion to festivals around the world. From their 10th appearance and first headlining set at T In The Park, where the Kilmarnock born rockers careers took off, to their staggering performance at the Belsonic Festival in Northern Ireland, band mates and lifelong pals Simon Neil (Lead vocals, Guitar) and twin brothers James (Bass, Vocals) and Ben Johnston (Drums, Vocals) have worked their fingers to the bone to please their huge army of avid fans. With a set of upcoming gigs for the Barrowlands this week coming up, which will have the band playing the majority of their massive back catalogue, I thought it would be a great idea to see what everyone thinks of their career so far and ask them a difficult question; which Biffy album tops them all?
Joined Eighth 0% each
It wasn’t surprising to me that the majority of B-side albums weren’t shown as much love as their superstar counterparts. Although they didn’t receive the same appreciation in the poll, it’s clear to anyone that the following albums are still well loved by those who have listened to them with material like And With The Scissor-kick Is Victorious off of the Vertigo of Bliss B-side compilation being a strong fan favourite.
Released: May 14th 2009
Infinity Land B-Sides
Released: 24th September 2012
Vertigo of Bliss B-Sides
Released: 11th June 2012
Blackened Sky B-Sides
Released: 2nd April 2012
Fact: The band were formed in 1995, originally called Screwfish. “Mon the Screwfish” doesn’t have the same kind of ring to it.
Joined Seventh 1% each
Released in July of this year, Similarities not only features B-sides from sixth album Opposites but an unreleased track, Children’s Limbs. Personally I think it’s one of the weaker albums. By that I don’t mean the tracks on selection are awful, Milky starts off with a instantly loveable country riff and ends in a blazing finish reminiscent to 2009’s Bubbles, but during the album I felt like it was a bit too safe and few of the tracks stuck out to me as anything utterly mind-blowing.
Arguably the best B-side album, Lonely Revolutions came out in the summer of 2010, less than a year since the release of Only Revolutions. It’s not hard to see why so many people prefer this over OR as the tracks on offer could have been released as its own follow up album. Once An Empire features a great range of absurd lyrics that’ll bring back memories of A Day Of… and Robbery will keep fans of the band’s new found sound after their first 3 albums extremely pleased. All in all, a fantastic album that is well balanced and a joy from start to finish.
Fact: No one knows for sure what Biffy Clyro stands for. Explanations for it have varied from a pen named after Cliff Richard to the name being an acronym for “Big Imagination for Feeling you ‘Cause Life Yearns Real Optimism.”
Sixth place 3%
Opposites: Live From Glasgow
Released just last month, the album is pretty much self-explanatory. With 14 live recordings from the band’s gig at the SECC last April, the album captures the consistent quality of their performances though the album does miss out some killer tracks that were played such as There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake.
Fact: Biffy were concerned when they allowed X-Factor winner Matt Cardle to cover their song ‘Many of Horror’. Simon Neil told Kerrang : “We don’t want to be too closely associated with (X Factor).
Fifth Place 4%
Revolutions: Live At Wembley
Another live album, this time better done with the full length of the gig recorded, no track left un-played. Not only does the album come with a CD, it also comes with a DVD that shows footage of their Wembley arena gig as well as their T in the Park set from 2010. Oh, and band commentary, so there’s really no excuse to not pick this up if you’re a fan.
Fact: Robbie Williams asked Biffy to play football and collaborate on his new album. Neil explained: “I got asked to play a solo on his record too, but I turned it down. I wish all the best for Robbie, but I don’t think he needs my help. Bizarrely, I think Slash is going to play the solo now, which makes the whole thing cooler.”
Joined Fourth Place 9% each
Released: January 28th 2013
Opposites is the band’s sixth album and their first double album, a point that was heavily discussed from the album’s early days by Neil who was divided on whether or not it should be a double or triple album. I was lucky to get the album on release and was anxious for the result. Thankfully, Biffy released not only a great album but one of their finest albums that can sit along with the likes of Puzzle and Infinity Land. Different People can only be described as being a stadium anthem and is definitely one of the best tracks on the album with Victory Over the Sun being a personal favourite of mine. One of the strong points of the albums is the energy that you can practically feel when listening, probably due to the amount of years they have been in the business for. Although it’s only a year old it’s already loved by music fans and has been a stepping stone into the band, allowing them to dwell into their deep back catalogue.
Released: October 3rd 2004
Now this I can see pissing off a lot of people. Infinity Land is arguably the most creative album Biffy have come out with, even the song titles alone are stellar, and it’s one of the two albums that always get brought up during the subject of which album is the best, the other being VOB. It’s no surprise to see why when you first give the album a listen and hear opener Glitter and Trauma, a track that is eponymous in natures as synths twinkle over scratches of impending doom. There’s a lot more to the album than just that one track, the first three tracks alone account for one of the best beginnings to an album I’ve ever experience, but from that first track you’re strapped in and ready to experience something surreal. Despite its low position, it should be listened to by anybody at least once.
Fact: Biffy Clyro have frustrated aspirations to become a hip-hop crew, according to Simon Neil. “We’ll always be a rock band, but I want us to move in different directions,” he told NME. “If I could rap, I’d be rapping on the next record. The Kanye record [‘Yeezus’] blew me away! Hearing that made me think, Fuck we could be messing around with sounds like that!”
Third Place 13%
Released: 9th November 2009
I’m not so surprised to see this album receive this big a chunk of the votes but I wasn’t expecting it to trump IL, that’s for sure. However, in a way, it deserves it. Puzzle might have put Biffy on the map but Only Revolutions put it in font size 34 in bold Arial writing with a saltire oozing out every character. The album from start to finish is never, ever boring. The Captain? An explosion of instruments tries to silence the shouts and war-cries of the biffy boys. That Golden Rule? An onslaught of guitar riffs and drums smashing with the trademark Simon Neil vocals that are so unashamedly loud yet beautiful they give the hadron collider a run for its money. I could go on all day but all that needs to be said is Only Revolutions is a cracking record.
Joined Second Place 17% each
Released: 10th March 2002
“This will kill you” whispers Simon Neil over a slow patter of drums before a pearl harbour size assault takes place. This is it. The album that started it all. From the album title alone it’s clear that there’s not going to be any happy songs, instead grim songs of heartache and angst. The sound quality is raw. Neil’s voice seems to deteriorate with every scream. Ben Johnston scrambles around on the drums. And that’s what makes it all so perfect.
Fact: Biffy Clyro wouldn’t exist without Kurt Cobain, claims Neil. “Kurt Cobain taught me as a 12-year-old that you didn’t have to be a great guitarist to write a song or to say something, so as a songwriter he’s my biggest influence.”
Vertigo of Bliss
Released: 16th June 2003
The follow up to their sinister and superb debut, Vertigo of Bliss took everything that Blackened Sky did right and then some. Out goes the gloom and in goes a bit more light-hearted goodness albeit not by a lot. This doesn’t harm the quality of the album though as each song, to put it simply, is bloody fantastic. Vertigo of Bliss is the most accessible of all of the older biffy albums and for good reason. Opening track Bodies in Flight starts off pretty non-menacingly but before long, it becomes a hurricane of hectic chords and harmonies, as stable as a 3 legged but all the more interesting for it. I could go on for hours about how much I love this album but words can’t do it justice. Listen to it and you’ll never regret it.
Fact: While touring the American east coast in 2013, the band took a fan up on her offer to host a Biffy gig in her basement to just 25 people. James later described it as one of their best ever shows.
First Place 26%
Released: June 4th 2007
For many this is the first biffy album that they bought. I know it was for me anyway. I can clearly remember going out to get it around the time I started getting the bus into town, listening to my MP3 player with one song on it: Machines. I played it religiously and still play it whenever I get the chance. That’s what I love most about Puzzle and it’s not nostalgia affiliated. It’s that every track holds some special quality, whether it is the entirely unique Living’s A Problem or the heart-breaking and beautiful Folding Stars, a track that is in its own league when it comes to the emotion it evokes from the listener. There’s nothing really else I can say, other than Puzzle is a masterpiece.
Fact: The band has pledged to continue to perform shirtless, even into old age. Simon Neil thinks that it’s “highly likely that you will see us at 55 years old with big pot bellies and our shirts bouncing around the stage, going fucking crazy.”
So what are your thoughts about the Biffy album ranking? Happy? Angry? What’s your favourite album? Leave your thoughts in the comments below since I’d love to see what you think. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @blinkclyro for some more fanboying and also go like my Facebook page (we’re so close to 100 likes!!!).