Artist: Biffy Clyro
Album: Black Chandelier EP
Genre: Post Hardcore, Alternative
Label: 14th Floor Records
Stereotypes are the worst, aren’t they? Without reason they leave you branded with a certain stigma or personality that may not necessarily be indicative of you, yet any effort to change or shake these conventionalized ideas often results in their spreading like fire snuffed with gasoline. They build and swell into something bigger than initially intended, often consuming the original product and much of what surrounds it.
This outbreak of pretentious judgment is true of the music industry as well. For example, being labeled as an “emo” band by your peer group borders as close to a kiss of death as any demographic in music (second only to “sellout”). For example, having on multiple occasions had Biffy Clyro presented to me as “an emo band,” I avoided them like a fat kid ditches gym class. However, like cardio, it turns out the band was actually rather good for me.
With honest and candid lyrics surrounding hot button and often-untouchable subject matters, Biffy Clyro’s latest cut, referred to as the Black Chandelier EP, stands out in its unique approach to storytelling. The title track, which opens the EP, swims through subjects like self-doubt, instabilities and imbalance in relationships. With a unique and poetic first-person view of his life, Simon Neil, the band’s front man, describes being walked away from as though speaking to the person who fled him, stating “You left my heart like an abandoned car/old and worn and no use at all.” The song embraces its approach in a manner similar to that of Blue October, providing the listener with a no-holds-barred, punch-to-the-gut presentation of the narrator’s heart-wrenching reality.
For those keeping score, this is not classified as being emo. It is in fact classified as being brave. Neil’s ability to gather up the most intimate and personal details of his existence and grant fans a full-access pass to pick them apart should be commended, not condemned.
This trend continues into the EP’s second track, “The Rain.” Though simpler and less abrasive, the band stands steadfast in the brilliance of their lyrical structure. With carefully crafted verses and words aimed at elevating the message over the clean and uncomplicated instrumentation, the song reads more like prose at a coffee shop poetry reading than a song on a post-hardcore release. Driven by flowing bass and charming acoustic guitar, both resting under Neil’s thick accent, the song sounds more rooted in the UK sound than the previous cut. The band continues to speak in metaphors and riddles, linking each of the new songs with three different sounds together with a similar theme.
“Thundermonster,” the hardest song on the EP, has similarities to The Used, only without the gruff, invasive yelling. However, the ambiguous and obscure pictures the band paints leaves enough room to wander into self-descriptive illusions, linking the songs to the personal crossroads of their life. It is easy to become smitten with the songs that Billy Clyro are selling due their ability to snag the listen and hold them with a white-knuckled grip. This addiction is never more exposed than in the album’s only live track, “Many of Horror.” Hearing the crowd collectively croon the song’s lyrics flawlessly and passionately provides a fairly obvious understanding of the manner in which this band touches its fans.
I get it. This album has certainly touched me. It is a fantastic start to 2013.