Category Archives: music

Maroon 5 and The Script – V and No Sound Without Silence | Double album review | Music

The Script and Maroon 5 double album reviewIt’s not every day new albums come out which you actually care about. Unfortunately there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to ramble about them all (far less than usual actually, sorry about that lone fan), and so slamming two together in what could be described as, but isn’t really, a head-to-head seemed like a fun option.

The reason Maroon 5 and The Script together sit together nicely is because they are bands in similar areas of the industry (though the Maroon 5 boys have a few more years and albums under their belt), but they are different enough to listen to back to back.

Maroon 5 – V

Maroon 5 - VWith their fifth album – however did you guess… – the boys have taken the dancier sound from Overexposed and refined it, bringing a bit more instrumentation back in as well as using more of their layered vocals from Adam Levine which made Songs About Jane stand out.

Opener and lead single Maps is a perfect blend of the band’s catchy melodies and memorable guitar style. There aren’t many bands who can get away with repetition, even in a clearly pop-focused single, but Maroon 5 are excellent at taking a simple idea and elaborating on it through a song, driving it forward.

Animals continues the theme in style, before It Was Always You mellows things out a little, dialling up the dance beats a notch.

Levine’s vocals contain some of the highest notes we’ve heard and his various grunts and oohs build to screeches as the music swells, but in a way which refuses to step over the line into a piercing noise, similar to how Michael Jackson got away with it on many tracks.

Maroon 5 - VWith a mixture of ballads with a beat and catchy numbers, the rest of the album plays out much as you might expect, with the odd 80s nod in the synth drums. It’s a collection of songs that hangs together well without any sticking out too far, but it may prove too middle-of-the-road for some as a result.

No doubt there are top ten hits here waiting to be unleashed (so many in fact, that you could easily make a sweepstake out of it), but it’s only a small step from Overexposed compared to where the band began the consistency has improved but undoubtedly the edginess that made them most endearing when they crashed onto the scene has dulled slightly.

That said there’s an awful lot to enjoy on this album, particularly for crowd singalong moments, and where Overexposed dragged its heels in the middle and became uninspiring, V never does.

The Script – No Sound Without Silence

The Script - No Sound Without SilenceThe fourth album from the Irish pop-rockers is a similar continuation on a theme, with the catchiness and excitement of #3 taken up a notch with lead single Superheroes. First track No Good In Goodbye has some excellent plays on words, including “Where’s the us in trust gone?” and “Can’t take the ache from heartbreak”, cementing the band’s position of one of the best lyrical groups in the charts.

The sound overall has good mix of upbeat and more reflective songs, far more laid back than V certainly, but you do find yourself longing for one more singalong classic along the lines of Breakeven or The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.

There are influences here of other bands like Coldplay, Bastille and even The 1975, but never more significant than the odd moment.

The themes of the songs are still quite personal, but generally more aspirational and uplifting then they have been in the past. The Energy Never Dies and It’s Not For You both insist that you don’t have to take the situation you’ve ended up in and leave it at that, instead you can at the very least choose your attitude to it.

The Script - No Sound Without SilenceMusically the band’s use of piano is much more natural this time, but otherwise it’s hard to find many stand out moments, it’s more just that the entire mix – particularly the interplay of vocals between all three of the brand members – is really impressive and at several moments really makes the tracks something special, to the extent that you can feel the odd goosebump.

It might not have as much ammo for the charts as previous efforts but the songs are well crafted and fit together beautifully, creating an album you can just sit back and relax to or jump around the room with here and there.

In short, both these albums deserve your attention, do yourself a favour and at least pick, but, if you know what’s good for you, choose both.

James Michael Parry

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The five best albums of 2013 (that you’ve probably never heard of…) | Review | Music

In something of a departure from the norm for TIE, allow us to present five great albums from last year which you’ve might have missed, compiled by guest poster Jordan Thomas. Agree? Disagree? Confused? Leave a comment below.

Five albums from 2013 you might have missedTonight Alive - Tonight Alive – The Other Side (Sony Music)

Tonight Alive’s first album was a decent pop punk album in a world filled with samey pop-punk bands, this second album however raises them far above the rank and file. While it doesn’t exactly break the mould for the genre it does show exactly how it should be done. The underwhelming cover art aside, this album is stunning; every song is catchy and immediate, with grounded lyrics you can actually relate to and  massive, clear sound production (not to mention Jenna’s fine vocal performance). With Paramore having moved onto new grounds these should be your go to guys for your pop-punk fix.

Check out: Lonely Girl

Katatonia - Dethroned and UncrownedKatatonia – Dethroned and Uncrowned (Kscope)

Dead End Kings was one of the best metal releases of 2012, so how did the band think they could top this? The answer as it happens was to take that same album, strip it of all guitars, aggression and metal and use it to craft a haunting semi acoustic masterpiece. All of the songs work surprisingly well, with the biggest difference being Buildings, with heavy thumping piano replacing the crashing guitar of the original. While the original record was gloomy, this is a whole different league, the songs are slow and dripping with melancholy. it is not a happy record by any stretch, but it is a beautiful one, one which deserves repeated listens to hear all it has to offer.

Check Out: The Racing Heart

Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused to SingSteven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) (Kscope)

From his humble beginnings making tapes of supposed forgotten bands to his current status as one of the most revered men in music; Wilson has always been making excellent boundary pushing prog rock. Building on the jazz influences of his last solo outing this album pushes his sound even further away from that of his other works. Extended jazz solos (courtesy of the excellent Theo Travis) are frequent, and though his heavier side is still there it’s more in the background, with gentle melodies being allowed more of a front row. Like Katatonia, it is not an album to cheer you up, but it is one to close your eyes and listen to in mellow bliss.

Check out: Drive Home

Deafhaven - SunbatherDeafheaven – Sunbather (Deathwish)

Take the dreaminess and distorted melodies of shoegaze, and slam it together with the pummelling heaviness of black metal and you get Sunbather. The resulting album is not always an easy listen, but is a worthwhile one. BM screams and drumming are the main meat of the sound, but there’s nearly always melody from the guitars, and slower instrumental parts and spoken word help to break it up into a more manageable listen. Since the album’s release, it has gone almost mainstream, bringing with it the usual hype and backlash, but regardless of whether it is really as important a release as some claim, it is undeniably an excellent one.

Check out: Dream House

Pet Shop Boys - ElectricPet Shop Boys – Electric (x2)

I haven’t really kept up with the animal themed store boys lately, my knowledge spans pretty much their heyday period and drops off when they did. However this one seemed positively met so I decided to give it a go. Boy, am I glad I did. It’s obviously PSB, but manages to sound very modern as well. More bass heavy than a lot of their famous stuff, with a strong dance feel running through the album it’s an exhilarating listen, Bolshy and Love Is… are probably the most recognisable stuff on offer, with the interesting additions of pseudo dubstep (Shouting…) and a surprisingly decent piece featuring Example (Thursday) giving the album a nice bit of variation. Whether you be a fan of pop, dance or just the PSB this is an album you should consider.

Check Out: Love is a Bourgeois Construct

Jordan Thomas

Reading Festival 2013 | Review | Music

Reading Fest 2013After a decade of live music you think you’ve seen it all, but Reading Festival continues to deliver unique experiences year after year and nothing can compare to this festival’s atmosphere, excitement and passion.

This year saw the return of Green Day and Eminem to the headliner slot on the Main Stage, and a long-awaited rise of Biffy Clyro to close the show with a, frankly tremendous, bang.

Friday

Reading Fest 2013A ray of sunshine greeted While She Sleeps as they opened the festival on the Main Stage to a lukewarm reception.

The arena this year has had a re-jig, expanded to include a new stage and split the entrance into two – one heading to each side of the campsite – a tactic which largely works, though a bit of crowd education is necessary.

New Found Glory played Sticks and Stones in full (almost).
New Found Glory played Sticks and Stones in full (almost).

Highlights of the afternoon were New Found Glory, who began the retro trend with a complete rendition of breakthrough album Sticks and Stones.

“They forgot to check how long we needed and only gave us 40 minutes,” said frontman Jordan Pundik. “Our album is 42.”

As a result the band struggled to fit everything in, and in the end skipped the last track in favour of ‘All Downhill From Here’.

The show was well received by fans, despite many being only children when the album was originally released, and the bands energy was in full show.

As the evening drew in, Bastille drew the biggest crowd, packing out the NME/Radio 1 Stage with their calm melodies, and then, in contrast, the return of System of a Down to the Main Stage was met with a fantastically enthusiastic crowd.

The Living End do their party piece.
The Living End do their party piece.

At the same time, both The Living End and Alkaline Trio added weight to the line-up on the Lock-Up Stage, proving that these established bands can still deliver.

Green Day’s set on the Main Stage was hotly anticipated, and overall did not disappoint, with something for every fan, old and new, with a flurry of new songs at the beginning giving way to a complete rendition of Dookie, the band’s breakthrough release – which has it’s 20 year anniversary next year.

The band’s charisma was in evidence, particularly that of Billy Joe Armstrong – ever fond shouting ‘eh-oh’ to the crowd in true Freddie Mercury style.

But, in the band’s defence, the crowd responded, and caused Armstrong to proclaim that Reading is “the greatest festival in the world.” To which there was little argument.

Billy Joe continues to be a very popular showman.
Billy Joe continues to be a very popular showman.

Saturday

The rain fell strongly during Lower Than Atlantis' set.
The rain fell strongly during Lower Than Atlantis’ set.

The second day brought a change of feel and a change of crowd as headliner Eminem sets the tone, and changes the demographic of the crowd. Oddly there’s even racial diversity, something not often seen at this predominantly Caucasian festival.

Lower Than Atlantis earn their billing on the Main Stage with a fantastic set, for a band which played the Festival Republic Stage only last year. The band’s latest album shines particularly brightly and has the crowd entranced despite the inevitable rain.

The Blackout brought a strong dose of Wales to proceedings, who were well represented in the crowd throughout the weekend. The medley of hip hop classics was  particularly inspired segment.

White Lies closed with Ritual hit 'Bigger Than Us'.
White Lies closed with Ritual hit ‘Bigger Than Us’.

Strength of the bill through the afternoon holds up, with Twin Atlantic and even more so White Lies keeping the crowd entertained.

The latter pledged to give a set with more ‘girth’ in the programme and delivered, finishing with the timeless ‘Bigger Than Us’.

Imagine Dragons packed out the NME/Radio 1 Tent
Imagine Dragons packed out the NME/Radio 1 Tent

Imagine Dragons were the draw for everyone as the evening built up momentum. Playing most of their debut album, Night Visions, the band had their audience entranced and singing along with every single song.

‘Radioactive’ proved to be an epic closer, and the band made full use of the on stage percussion to give an epic, almost film soundtrack-like quality to the atmosphere.

Eminem’s set in the evening reflected the complete journey he has been on as an artist. There was banter from the crowd, singing along with hits such as ‘Real Slim Shady’ and ‘Without Me’.

There was an even a rare appearance of collaborator Dido as the rap star brought out his radio-friendly tune ‘Stan’. This prompted widespread arm swaying and singing along from the audience, which was massive and filled almost the entire arena on its own.

Following a teasing encore, there was a return to ‘Lose Yourself’, prompting yet more singing along. In all the show met everyone’s expectations.

Eminem's set was quite dramatic at times.
Eminem’s set was quite dramatic at times.

Best kept secret of the night was the films in the Radio 1 Extra Stage, which featured Star Trek Into Darkness, prompting a huge woop from the crowd as soon as Benedict Cumberbatch came on screen.

Sunday

The final day’s highlights were strewn throughout the day, but the Main Stage remained the place to be.

Hadouken! brought the disco groove to the Sunday.
Hadouken! brought the disco groove to the Sunday.

Hadouken! brought a real disco vibe which recalled the classic performances of acts like The Prodigy in the past, with an element of Pendulum. The crowd enjoyed the early afternoon boogie and it got the energy levels up early considering how late in the weekend it was.

Editors brought gravitas of a strong, well-established British band, with a number of hits – most of which you can’t quite remember the name of – and the crowd responded well. Songs from the new album did better live than on record.

The Lumineers went the extra mile, with front man Wesley Schultz fending out into the crowd to play a song, though the momentum was somewhat lost by Fall Out Boy delivering a set full of songs from all areas of their career but forgetting to put them in a discernible order, leading to a haphazard mix of styles clashing.

The light show for Nine Inch Nails was undeniably impressive.
The light show for Nine Inch Nails was undeniably impressive.

As darkness fell the might of Nine Inch Nails‘ light show was undeniable, with dozens of lights creating a hypnotic and dazzlingly elaborate display.

The set was slow to start, focusing on the band’s electronic sound, but by the end the rock was back in full force and slapping the audience in the face.

Finally it was the turn of Biffy Clyro to close the show. The new album Opposites was a fantastic platform to build the set around, packed with instant classics, and the hits from their back catalogue just kept on coming.

Biffy Clyro managed an astounding set which spanned their entire career.
Biffy Clyro managed an astounding set which spanned their entire career.

The show reflected the range in the band’s style well, even featuring ’57’ from the band’s first album, and the crowd responded with some of the loudest singing along of the entire weekend.

Closer ‘Mountains’ hit the sweet spot of the audiences knowledge, with old and new fans being drawn in.

The festival in all was a success, some questionable car parking organisation aside, and leads to thoughts of who might hit the line-up in 2014.

James Michael Parry

Alkaline Trio – My Shame is True | Album Review | Music

Alkaline TrioSurviving 15 years strongly in the punk scene is no mean feat and this new release from the Chicago threesome sets them up to continue to remain relevant to a whole new generation.

Sensing the tone

While Alkaline Trio‘s ‘heart and skull’ imagery can make everything seem dark, My Shame is True is surprisingly one of their lightest albums to date. Tonally at least, the first few songs have a hint of Green Day and Blink 182’s ‘skate punk’ about them, though by track 5, ‘The Temptation of St. Anthony’, play has returned somewhat to normal.

Unlike Green Day, who’s momentum has dipped in the past few years, the band haven’t veered off in any extreme direction. Previous album This Addition was designed to bring the band back to their roots, but arguably without that goal in mind, the album they have produced here proves to be more effective.

Keeping it simple

My Shame Is TrueBased around the theme of relationships, the album reflects leading man Matt Skiba’s recent troubles with love, and delivers songs with messages relatable enough to connect with fans young and old alike.

Opener ‘She Lied to the FBI’ is a fairly basic pop-friendly anthem, but one which states the band’s case for the record without giving too much away. By the half way point ‘I, Pessimist’, which features Rise Against‘s Tim McIlrath, the momentum is really flowing, and doesn’t really let up until the more relaxed and reflective closing tune ”Till Death do us Part’.

Instrumentally the band have pushed things up a notch since the past album, with Derek Grant’s drums in particular standing out as well as a smattering of synth here and there for effect. Production is still much more stripped down than the days of Crimson though, and the album feels more ‘real’ for it.

Pleasing the crowd

The songs need time to grow before they really become sing-a-longs. Don’t expect to find the next ‘Stupid Kid’, ‘Private Eye’ or even ‘Mercy Me’ hidden here, but there is a lot to like. Dan Andriano gets front-runner time once again on songs such as ‘Young Lovers’ and ‘I’m Only Here to Disappoint’, on top of the almost duet with McIlrath on ‘I, Pessimist’.

The balance works well, as it always has, and Andriano has the strength it lacked on older numbers like ‘The Poison’. Skiba pushes the envelope too, wailing his way through ‘The Temptation of St. Anthony’ in true battle cry style, really wearing his heart in his throat.

For those new to Alkaline Trio this as excellent entry point. The album takes the best of the latter days of higher production values and more confidence and variety in instrumentation, but still holds on tightly to the emotion and relatability of its songs that the band made their name on.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

Reading Festival 2013: The headliners | Feature | Music

Reading 2013After months of teasing, Festival Republic have now revealed all three headliners for Reading and Leeds 2013, along with a handful of other names. Green Day, Eminem and Biffy Clyro are confirmed as the three big-hitters for what is, for many, the festival highlight of the year.

The question is, will they be any good?

The struggling pop punk heroes

TréGreen Day have not had an easy time of it. The band were forced to pull out of a recent US tour after leading man Billy Joe Armstrong was taken into rehab for drug dependency. This forced a swift and apologetic release of Tré – the third album released by the trio in the past year, with the first in the trilogy being imaginatively titled Uno and Dos.

After the height of success in 2004 and 2005 with American Idiot, the last time they headlined the main stage (even before the multi-million selling album was released), the band have been fighting hard to remain relevant.

Young up-starts like All Time Low and heavier alternatives like The Blackout have got the attention of the pop crowd. On the hardcore punk side, the sort of bands who dominate well-known punk institutions such as The Warped Tour, bands like The Wonder Years, Such Gold and Man Overboard keep the momentum of the genre without the highly polished production.

What is undeniable though is that the band did make a massive impression at their secret performance at Reading last year, and Billy Joe’s reputation for strong showmanship is well-founded. It remains to be seen whether the band have any new ideas to bring to the table as a headliner.

The wildcard act

EminemRappers have not had a great time at Reading in past years. 50 Cent famously got bottled off after 20 minutes, and Jay-Z didn’t even arrive, cancelling shortly before the event began.

Marshall Mathers III, has been quiet in recent years, with only ‘Crack a Bottle’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘We Made You’ reaching the UK singles chart (and that was in 2009, four years ago). The days of ‘The Real Slim Shady’ and ‘Stan’ are behind him, making this a comeback gig.

Eminem has a lot stacked against him to get a rock audience on side, perhaps we can expect a rapped up rock cover or two? To win this audience, which will have its collective eyebrow firmly raised, Mathers will need all the excitement and atmosphere a live show can bring.

Despite the seemingly bleak setting, it’s worth remembering that Eminem is reportedly the biggest selling artist of the 2000s, and it’s likely everyone at the festival weekend will have heard at least one of his songs, if not three or four.

The more restrained image Eminem gives off these days may make him appear a bit more grown up, but this isn’t necessarily good for Reading. Clearly a big star in the pop world, Eminem has little foothold in ‘rock’ as a genre, with the fun tracks released as his alter ego Slim Shady being the most rock-friendly of the lot.

The man is absolutely there to promote his new album, rumoured to be coming out after Memorial Day in the US (the final Monday of May), but is he there for much else? You can’t expect a love poem to Reading like nice-guy Dave Grohl gave with Foo Fighters‘ set last year. Although he has had one previous headline performance, in 2001.

The Scotch alternative rockers

Biffy ClyroThese are the guys you should be definitely excited about. Biffy have played Reading on and off for the past 12 years, debuting on the smallest stage you could come across and working their way to the top through seven performances.

Latest album Opposites has gone down well with critics, and the band’s tour this year sold out in minutes. Things have never looked stronger for the band which began with Blackened Sky back in 2002.

To be trending up is a good thing, and immediately makes the group worthy of the highly sought-after Sunday night slot, which historically runs for another 20 minutes longer than the other nights.

Hits like ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Mountain’ scream for a further festival outing, and new tracks like ‘Black Chandelier’ are ripe to be picked by an eager and hungry audience.

The stage presence from the band has slowly risen over the years, to a level which is fit to explode and potentially blow the roof off the festival. As great as last year was, you can’t help but think that it was all a bit predictable. Hopefully with this mix of styles between the three nights there should at least be a nice breadth and variety to proceedings.

And still many more yet to come

Another one to watch for the weekend, and one which really shows that this is a festival with its finger on the pulse, is Skrillex, but expect more on him and the rest of the line up once more bands have been announced. For now, plenty of time to acquaint (or re-acquaint) yourself with the titular trios’ back catalogues.

Here’s what we have to look forward to:

James Michael Parry

Franchises and remakes: Same old story or a fresh perspective? | Feature | Entertainment

ScarfaceRolling out a re-tread of a tried and tested idea is (ironically) far from a new concept – in fact it has delivered some of the best films, games and even songs out there – but it also has a lot to answer for.

Tried and tested?

Look, a shiny new suit! What do you mean it looks exactly the same as the old one? Quiet I say!
Look, a shiny new suit! What do you mean it looks exactly the same as the old one? Quiet I say!

At present, only one or two films in IMDB’s top 250 are full remakes (though many are adapted from other sources such as books), so what is that makes Hollywood in particular so fond of taking a story for another spin?

The box office tells a different story however, with far more remakes getting a look in. Most recent of these is Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield, which controversially re-introduced the character last year, just 10 years after Tobey Maguire became the web-slinger in 2002. Of course, this case is technically a ‘re-boot’, which the viewing public seem to be more receptive to and forgiving of.

Sometimes, the remake is more successful than the original, such as Scarface (above) or The Man Who Knew Too Much, and can even go own to spawn a franchise of its own. With such inconsistency, it can be difficult to pick out whether the film has been judged on its own merits, or compared to its predecessor, something which often happens with a franchise.

The power of the franchise

Look into my eyes, boy
“What do you mean there isn’t another book?!”

In film in particular, there is a big emphasis on the strength of franchises. For the studio big-wigs, the box office numbers are king, so films can carry on for near-countless iterations before dying out, just because viewers are bought into the franchise. Often the subsequent films don’t even have the same characters, or actors, such as in later instalments of Home Alone or The Bourne Legacy.

In numbers terms, film series like Harry Potter or Twilight make great sense to studios, and so they continue to be churned out year after year, but will their massive commercial success mean they will never fall victim to being remade? (Well, it would give someone else a chance to play a slightly more emotive Bella).

It’s in the game

Dead stare-y heroin Jill Valentine wished she'd brought that HD grenade launcher
Dead stare-y heroin Jill Valentine wished she’d brought that HD grenade launcher

For games there are a variety of different types of remake. Popular with publishers at the moment is the ‘HD re-release’ (see Metal Gear Solid HD Collection). Not a remake per se, this allows games-makers to slap some hi-def polish on a game from 10 years ago and release it as a collection, which often serves to bring the younger gaming audience up to date in time for a new release in the franchise.

Another option, which is more costly and time-consuming, is the full remake, which often takes the game back to basics and gives it a full visual re-working, even adding in new content, such as Halo Anniversary or the Resident Evil Gamecube edition.

Play it again, Sam

When will it end?
When will it end?

The music industry re-releases songs like they are going out of fashion (in fact, a lot of the time, because they are going out of fashion), with a new Rolling Stones or Beatles ‘definitive’ Greatest Hits collection out every few years.

Music gets away with it somehow, perhaps due to it’s ‘timeless’ nature, but where it does drop the ball is the cover song. The lowest of all remakes, this takes a song we know and love and often minces it into a slurry which is poison to our ears. Case in point is anything uttered by hyperactive hair enthusiasts Jedward in the past few years.

On the other hand, a re-imagining can offer a new perspective to a song, such as Gary Jules’ more sombre and more thoughtful rendition of ‘Mad World’, or Gabrielle Aplin’s thoughtful and more sombre rendition of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’. It just goes to show that the whole concept of recycling isn’t a massive waste of time as many have speculated.

So, what’s the point?

Classics like this would never exist if it weren't for remakes, just don't mention Ocean's Twelve. Did. Not. Happen.
Classics like this would never exist if it weren’t for remakes, just don’t mention Ocean’s Twelve. Did. Not. Happen.

As consumers we have a duty to demand the best. If we settle for less, that’s what we will end up with.

That said, there is value in the remake. Ocean’s Eleven and The Departed (to name just two) are way up our all-time top film lists, and the recent Devil May Cry reboot – DmC: Devil May Cry – proved to be far more engaging, stylish and entertaining than at least its immediate predecessor, but there is a danger in not taking a risk once in a while with a new IP.

The lesson is that just because a film, game or single might be from an established name, a long-running franchise, or based on a well-loved and well-used concept doesn’t guarantee its quality – good or bad.

So next time you splash your cash, think carefully whether you are investing because you like what you’ve already heard about it or just because you think you know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it can be a foregone conclusion of course, if you don’t like superheroes then probably the next Thor or X-Men isn’t for you, but sometimes if you take a risk and go in with no preconceptions, you might surprise yourself.

James Michael Parry

Biffy Clyro – Opposites | Album Review | Music | This Is Entertainment

Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro - OppositesBiffy Clyro are a band which always seem to have been around. Despite rising to power with debut Blackened Sky back in 2002, the band never seem to grab attention in the same way as a charismatic rock outfit like Foo Fighters, which is a shame when you consider the strength of their catalogue to date.

Latest effort Opposites is no exception, and succeeds in grabbing attention from the very beginning with ‘Different People’, in which a slow build of keyboard give way to a perfect sing-along melody.

Title track ‘Opposite’ is as touching a ballad as any of their contemporaries have ever managed and sets the tone for the album as a whole – this isn’t raw and gritty Biffy, but this isn’t them going soft either.

The sound has been distilled, concentrated and rounded off, but without sacrificing the band’s edginess. Their fiddling of offbeat time signatures remains present, as does the occasional Scottish twang from the vocals which never fails to raise a smile. You won’t find anything quite like the early works such as the iconic ’57’ and ’27’ here, but the polish added with time has made the band shine rather than dull, and those familiar with the Only Revolutions era are sure to feel right at home.

The music adds in a few rogue elements to full effect, such as trumpet in the appropriately named ‘Spanish Radio’, and despite having the usual dash of melancholy, Simon Neil’s dark vocals continue to hit home with their vivid imagery, forcing you to engage where other bands may be happy to let you phase out. The tempo swings up and down, often within the same song, making the album arresting to your ears.

In truth, Opposites has all the elements to serve as a very strong entry point to the journey of Biffy Clyro themselves. Still going strong after almost 20 years, this album is a stop which could see a lot of new fans jump on board for the ride, and the train shows no signs of slowing down.

With such a consistently strong album, Biffy deserve to be noticed and recognised for their obvious talents, and a few songs could even sneak into the pop charts if marketed right. It’s unlikely that this is what the band had in mind of course, but to show the world that the British can still make music, bands like this need to step up and take their well-deserved place in the sun.

Rating: 5/5

James Michael Parry