Tuesday, 12 April 2016

No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.1.10 - "Diary Of Always" (Biffy Clyro)

It would be unfortunate to sully this series with a sudden reveal of myself as an unbearable hipster, but Biffy Clyro were so much more interesting before they got famous.

It's not that there's nothing to recommend their latter three albums. Indeed Puzzle and Opposites are both distinctly superior platters (Only Revolutions is a bit rubbish, mind). But it was with The Vertigo of Bliss and Infinity Land that Biffy did their most interesting work. Both albums are bewildering collages of shifting texture, half a hundred concepts compressed to bursting point into barely more than a dozen tracks. There's a tremendous sense of velocity, of impatience. The goal must be to reach the next idea, no matter how good what's going on now.

But to contradict myself entirely (hey, I'm in hipster mode, how can I avoid hypocrisy?), the best moments of those discs are when you get to take a breath from the swirling madness, and just listen to a tune.

"Diary of Always" is a case in point; a rare instance of an early Biffy track that builds rather than repeatedly unspools. Elsewhere, the band's pop-rock sensibilities rub up uneasily against their heavy metal freak-outs. Here, though, the two ultimately run in parallel, with the song ending with Simon Neil's melancholy vocal floating above an almost-submerged unhinged screaming of the same lines. The result replaces the band's usual shifts from sorrow to anger and back again with the idea that one always lies underneath the other. Neil is sad about his inability to change, but he's furious about it too. By song's end, we're listening to two tracks playing side-by-side, each informing and reinforcing its partner Anger and sadness feeding each other as they turn.

It takes time for the fury to build, admittedly; it's not until almost two and half minutes in before the wail of filthy guitar announces what's coming. In part this is simply a part of the song's structure, a textbook execution of the building layers approach I've always been a sucker for. But beyond that, it serves as a reminder that anger is something you can jump-start with sufficient sadness, when enough layers of hurt are compressed under their own pressure into a hard, hot rage.

Sometimes this is therapeutic. Sometimes it is dangerous. Here, at least, it is simply rather beautiful.

But you wish we all could betray whom, Simon? WHOM?


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