Biffy Clyro | Puzzle (Roadrunner/14th Floor)

cd_biffy.jpgThe difference between Biffy Clyro and bands like QOTSA and RATM is inventiveness. Instead of pioneering, the Scottish trio retreads, further clarifying the line between talented musicians and talented songwriters and performers.

 

 

 

 

The second song on Puzzle is called "Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies." The real puzzle, though is how a band who so astutely and unpoetically understands life’s fleeting nature could create an album that is so profoundly forgettable.

Biffy Clyro’s sound is a mix of prog rock and whining. Kind of like a toned-down Queens of the Stone Age, minus the originality and weirdness. The music’s core is guitar, bass and drums, but occasionally choral stings or symphonic jabs come in to pep up the songs. Instead of giving the album a grand or dramatic feel, though, they just serve to busy up the sound.

This record was co-produced by ’90s rock engineer/producer GGGarth (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the recording is well done. The clean guitar tones are crystal clear, the bass is present and the drums pop nicely. When the band kicks into full-on rock out mode, though, the songs lose some punch. The distorted guitar sounds just like a million other distorted guitars out there. Considering GGGarth worked on the first Rage Against the Machine album, this is a huge letdown. When the band should be rattling windows, they’re politely tapping at them.

The difference between Biffy Clyro and bands like QOTSA and RATM is inventiveness. Instead of pioneering, the Scottish trio retreads, further clarifying the line between talented musicians and talented songwriters and performers.

Speaking of songwriting, it’s the one thing that could save this album. The instrumentals may not push into the red, but the song structure is pretty good and it showcases the band’s willingness to do at least one thing slightly differently than their peers. Where the songs lose out, though, is with lyrics. A general malaise flows through each stanza, but sadness is nothing new, and no matter how loud or soft they sing, this band isn’t saying anything new, or even very good. Lines like, "How do you capture a photograph?" and "I’m lying here, swimming in memories" are remarkably bland, while the words "You can’t rely on someone else to be happy" reflect occasional attempts for the band to be inspirational. The boring and non-committal lyrics, combined with uninspired production make it seem like the group is going for Nickelback’s crown as the kings of moderate adult rock.

But while the words are rarely uplifting and often cliché, they sometimes just don’t make much sense at all. "There’s a man on the corner, selling dozens of bones," they sing. "Every type of bone except the one that I want." It’s not bones this band needs; it’s balls. D | Gabe Bullard

RIYL: Nickelback, Muse, Incubus

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