Biffy Clyro’s first three albums were, in the simplest possible terms, very fucking strange. From their brutal, emotionally bleak debut ‘Blackened Sky’ to its sprawling follow-up ‘The Vertigo Of Bliss’ and the creepy, intense third effort ‘Infinity Land’, the band were far from commercial, playing basement venues and developing a cult-like following.
Their fourth album changed all that though, adding arena-ready choruses and hooks to their existing weirdness, thrusting them towards the upper echelons of British rock. Opener ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’ is the perfect example of such - an obtuse, thumping intro folds out into some of the band’s poppiest moments yet, opening the band up to a whole new audience. Bookended with this huge, intense opener and equally devastating (if much quieter) closer ‘Machines’, there’s barely a second of downtime across the 13-track record.
With ‘Puzzle’, the choruses came bursting out, the tops came firmly off, and Biffy Clyro finally arrived.
‘Who’s Got A Match’ and ‘A Whole Child Ago’ would be some of the band’s most instantly appealing moments to date, adding immediacy to their existing arsenal of brilliant weirdness. As well as being a catapult towards worldwide success for Biffy Clyro, ‘Puzzle’ served as an intensely important and personal record to frontman Simon Neil, reflecting on the death of his mother in 2004.
‘Folding Stars’ is a beautiful, devastating ode to Eleanor, and one that still commands the band’s live sets to this day. ‘Puzzle’ really was - and remains - the whole package, and an album that deserved to make Biffy Clyro one of the country’s biggest bands. There’s still the inherent strangeness here - a series of interludes titled 2, 4, and 9/15ths creep around like an uninvited stranger, and ‘Get Fucked Stud’ is a brilliantly unconventional thrasher - but it’s channelled into something universal, and that’s where ‘Puzzle’ strikes gold.
The record was followed by ‘Only Revolutions’, a record that cemented Biffy Clyro’s position in the big leagues and saw them go onto headline their first festivals. It’s still ‘Puzzle’, though, that served as a turning point in their career, and even now, seven albums in, that shines as their finest moment. The choruses came bursting out, the tops came firmly off, and Biffy Clyro finally arrived.
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