“This is how you fuck it from the start,” explains ‘Dumdum’, the opening track on, ‘The Myth Of The Happily Ever After’, Biffy Clyro’s ninth album. Though thankfully not a prophetic lyric in terms of quality, it does rather eloquently sum up both the mood of the album, and the milieu in which it was written.
Coming quickly off the back of last year’s ‘Celebration Of Endings’, one would be forgiven for assuming the record might share much of that albums inherent optimism, especially given the similarities between the two albums’ artwork. And though the two are intrinsically linked, they come from two vastly different perspectives.
And well they might. The world changed dramatically in the 18 months between the records’ recording sessions, as did frontman Simon Neil’s outlook. This doesn’t mean to say that ‘The Myth…’ is a despondent release. It is intensely angry though, harking back to the band’s early days more than any other record has before, all the while harbouring an air of cynicism that feels like the direct anthesis of its predecessor.
A surprise album that was announced with lead single ‘Unknown Male #1’, it’s this track that embodies both the temperament of the record, and the turbulent mood of the nation over the last 18 months most. A twisting and angular offering, it veers between elation and angst effortlessly, it’s tempestuous nature a reflection of Neil’s conflicting emotions over that time. Elsewhere ‘A Hunger in Your Haunt’ is arguably the record’s most cynical track, built around a snaking and spiralling riff that couldn’t have been written by any other band, it’s angular and abrasive, not only perpetuating the aforementioned ‘DumDum’s cynicism, but actively exacerbating it.
It isn’t all doom and gloom however, though that doesn’t mean to say its peaches and cream either. ‘Witches Cup’ for instance, provides a rare moment of optimism if one scratches beneath its lyrically nihilistic exterior, though the swathes of brass provide it from the start. Like-wise ‘Hara Urara’, named after an exceptionally unlucky Japanese racehorse, builds towards what’s arguably the album’s most uplifting moment.
Such moments are thin on the ground, punctuating an otherwise bleak and cynical landscape with rare pockets of upbeat optimism. As such, there’s only one or two tracks on offer here that provide the usual anthemic single opportunity that are rife on other Biffy Clyro records. That feels far from the point of ‘The Myth…’. Instead, it’s an exercise in catharsis, providing an accurate snapshot into the minds and mentality of the band certainly, but also the general public of the last year and a half.
Words: Dave Beech
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