Referring to their 10th studio album The Myth Of The Happily Ever After as “Scottish Knob”, their take on Green Day’s classic American Idiot, Scottish trio Biffy Clyro are close to the truth. To stand head and shoulders above an already impressive back catalogue with an album initially destined to be created from scraps off the cutting room floor of predecessor A Celebration Of Endings wasn’t the intention, nor was it expected by the public in general, but that’s exactly what it achieves.
We had become accustomed to what to expect from a band that were showing signs of waning, adopting the autopilot stance of generating increasingly unexciting and mediocre material that the likes of Foo Fighters have ended up doing, so it’s not so much surprising as jaw-droppingly staggering.
Tranquil opener Dumdum glistens, nonchalantly declaring that “This is how we fuck it from the start”; ironically, it’s the opposite. The more raucous pairing of A Hunger In Your Haunt and Denier bludgeon and bust blood vessels during their deliverance, drawing on more expected roots with the former somehow managing to exceed their normal repertoire with a magic, unidentifiable ingredient – if anyone works out what it is, let us know. Perhaps it’s the way they eventually and casually switch to a menacing section driven by pulsating bass after opening lyrics bemoan the thoughts of us all lately: “The glass is not half full, it’s not half empty, instead it lays half fucked upon the floor.”
Closer Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep hammers the ears again with its remarkable percussive onslaught before declaring “don’t you waste your time” and “love everybody” – the opposite of A Celebration Of Endings’ conclusion during Cop Syrup that snarled “fuck everybody”. Aside from the equally explosive riffage of Unknown Male 01 where the trio pay homage to both Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison and late journalist Dan Martin who had championed the band in their early days, things elsewhere are spectacularly impressive without walking familiar Biffy paths.
A synth arpeggiator fades in and out during the excellent single Errors In The History Of God – a despondent reflection on humanity – and the slow burning gem Existed paints a melodic picture via falsetto vocals and delightful synths as Simon Neil asks for forgiveness. But the record’s majesty is nailed down by two tracks that reach the next level to anything Biffy Clyro have ever done before. Firstly, Separate Missions talks of broken promises amongst foreboding bass and screeching synths before supplying a superb chorus; but the excellence is everywhere – the vocals, the melody, the guitaring – everything. And then there’s Holy Water: melodic, withdrawn and then menacing, its synthline is to die for, as is the fantastic, nerve-tingling riffing. It’s an epic.
The Myth Of The Happily Ever After doesn’t just stand out, it soars, inadvertently becoming not only Biffy Clyro’s best album to date but one that will undoubtedly stun their critics. Responding to the turgid year we all experienced, the theme of blind faith couples with one of loss to craft an album of the magnitude they had threatened several times to deliver. That it happened by accident is as astonishing as it is comical, but it’s fact nonetheless.