Looking back with tracks like these is a hugely enjoyable process.
Rob Crossan 2008-06-26
Last year's Puzzles was the sound of a band chucking their equipment out of a grubby bedsit window and running like hell towards stadium gigs, shiny gongs and trans-Atlantic plane tickets. Biffy Clyro's angular, melodic charms were always quite clearly way off the usual rock radar in terms of intelligence and ideas. But the downright bloody-mindedness, lyrical obtuseness and Brechtian, multi-layered compositions of Simon Neil and his hirsute Ayreshire band seemed destined always to be overlooked in favour of groups more proficient with the concept of the power chord.
Puzzles may have put paid to all that, but for those who chanted ''Mon the Biffy' at gigs way before support slots with the Rolling Stones were on the cards, this is a very welcome, albeit not entirely necessary, trawl through the last few years. There's little on this hotch-potch of earlier recordings that's not already available but the left-field abrasiveness of Toys Toys Toys, Choke, Toys Toys Toys is worth hearing again, as is the taut gruffness of The Ideal Height. It gives obvious pointers towards the maxim that Biffy have always been fonder of radio-friendly melody than they let on in the early days.
This album is little more than Biffy's former label Beggars Banquet cashing in on neophyte fans, but there's nothing here nearly as unfathomable and feedback-drenched as the old-time fans would have you believe Biffy Clyro sounded like in the days when they played Dingwalls. Those days are long gone, though looking back with tracks like these is a hugely enjoyable process. Terrible sleeve though.