When Biffy Clyro released their eighth album, A Celebration Of Endings, in August 2020 it was a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, it revealed itself to be a creative high point of their career, an adrenalised and moving collision of their punk roots and pop nous, seasoned with the glorious, instantly recognisable weirdness they’ve somehow smuggled onto mainstream radio playlists.
On the other hand, it arrived during the stillest of summers, when playing the songs live – this band’s entire reason for existing – was out of the question. Rather than falling into the comforting arms of Netflix marathons, the band retreated to their Ayrshire farmyard rehearsal space and started work on what was intended to be a reaction piece to ACOE, but became its own unique beast.
Darker in tone than its predecessor, nihilism goes into battle with hope, dark and light fight for supremacy, while frontman Simon Neil bares his soul with the confidence of a man who has taken time to explore and accept his own strengths and flaws.
Musically, there’s a lot to digest, a sense of euphoric panic rising in the brassy, joyous Witch’s Cup and the soaring A Hunger In Your Haunt, which is anchored by a trademark stuttering breakdown guaranteed to make it a live highlight.
Separate Missions is shadowy synth pop that Depeche Mode in their prime wouldn’t turn their noses up at, while mournful opener DumDum’s echoing percussion and out-of-body vocals that seem to float up from the void make it a cinematic but disconcerting listen. Lyrically, meanwhile, there are returning Biffy motifs loaded with meaning: witches, religion, horses.
The latter is hidden in the title of Haru Urara, a reference to a Japanese racehorse known as “the shining star of losers everywhere” for continuing to give her all in the face of consistent defeat. And this, as the song builds from a downbeat moment of contemplation to metamorphose into a gleaming, thunderous stadium rock anthem, is the crux of the record.
We are, as Errors In The History Of God suggests, a giant mistake as a species, and yet we keep going, keep striving to be better. We end on a meandering, unpredictable, entirely wonderful moment of madness with Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep, working itself into a frenzy alongside a heartfelt plea to not waste a precious second on hate and division: ‘We’re only here once. Please give it all you’ve got before the rhythm stops… Give love to everyone.’
Beautiful in style and intent, The Myth Of The Happily Ever After has magic written into every note.