After two decades and seven full-length albums, Biffy Clyro has a discography to be reckoned with. Simon Neil, and Ben and James Johnston, the trio who make up the Scottish rock band, got their inception as early as some boy bands do, writing records at just 16 years old. Since then, they’ve created great music, often year after year, as truly unyielding musicians.
In the beginning, Biffy wrote songs and played music that was reminiscent of their oft-admitted major influence, Nirvana, but they eventually evolved, much like Dave Grohl, into creating music that reached a wider audience. They had their fair share of craziness without straying too far from camaraderie–something many bands struggle with preserving– and their albums display a certain type of honest progression through their career.
To understand the band is to love them, for all of their achievements and their falters. Though they have a faithful fanbase, some moments of their career are what drew them in while others were instances where they lost sight of who they play for. From best to worst, these are the albums that made Biffy Clyro who they are today.
1. Infinity Land, 2004
It’s said that the third time’s the charm, and Biffy Clyro seemed to cash in on this cliche with their third studio album. On Infinity Land, there’s a recognizable shift from their earlier records. A creation that’s notably complex and unpredictable, Infinity Land covers a full range of sound which only helps to illustrate the band’s immense artistic ability. It’s the album where the band believes they found their true identity and gave it their all without masking their Scottish lilt.
2. Only Revolutions, 2009
Only Revolutions displayed a marked shift into more digestible pop sounds and love song territory. It shows a certain sense of whimsy on tracks like “Bubbles” and gave fans the hit song “Mountains.” There are plenty of fan-favorite tracks, but none started a fire quite like “Many of Horror”, especially after Matt Cradle covered the song on The X Factor. Overall, the album was a standout of the band’s strength in keeping rock alive while inviting all types of listeners to get a taste.
3. Opposites, 2013
Opposites is a true mark of duality for the band. It’s their one and only double album, and is, on a more personal level, an amalgamation of both triumph and turmoil. Recorded in California, the band recalls the process of writing and recording this album as the mark of their first feud.
Immersed in medical marijuana while, at least for Ben, surrendering alcohol, we get everything from the punky “Sounds Like Balloons” to more contemplative and emotional “Biblical” and the energizing “Black Chandelier.” There’s a little bit for everyone on this wonderfully dynamic double album that could have killed them but really only made them stronger.
4. Blackened Sky, 2002
Biffy’s inaugural album was written, as they admitted, under the influence of “so much hash.” The world was introduced to the band through a variety of sounds, from the sing-a-long friendly “Just Boy” to the slow-building but never overwhelming “27.” Other tracks that made single-status include “Joy. Discovery. Invention.” and “57” which proved that the band always had it in them to top the charts; they just needed a few years to build some steam.
5. Vertigo of Bliss, 2003
Just a year after their debut, the band made Vertigo of Bliss, which they took as an opportunity to experiment. There are many strange arrangements and conflicting sounds like on “Eradicate the Doubt”, when a few guitar chords progress into a fury of emotion less than a minute into the song. It’s an album that fans either loved or hated, and they got the opportunity to reevaluate when the B-sides were released nearly a decade later.
6. Puzzle, 2007
This album took a serious turn, as it was heavily influenced by Simon’s loss of his mother. The sound offers a bit of orchestration that lends itself to the dramatic. They bring a slew of emotions to the album, made even more distinctive by violins and saxophones on tracks like “Now I’m Everyone” and “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies.” It’s focused on a distinct sound, and as a result attracts a niche audience. The cover looks sad, and that’s exactly what you can expect from the tracks. Though the sadness wasn’t enough to turn fans away, the stylistic changes were a major deterrent.
7. Ellipsis, 2016
The band’s most recent album title is again a metaphor for the band’s progression. Released three years after Opposites, an uncharacteristically long amount of time for Biffy, its sound embraced influences from everywhere. The intent was to create an evolutionary work that they believed rock needed, but what they produced was something that surrendered the very things their fans loved the most.
Their lead single “Wolves of Winter” was ironically the one that sounded most like their more notable and favored tracks of yore, while “Small Wishes” dipped into the uncharted wild of country-western. Perhaps a triumph of invention, it was more or less a resounding flop for their league of long-standing fans who were addicted to the early days of mayhem.