Here’s your fun fact for the day: the Greek word “ellipsis” translates literally as “falling short”. In a modern context, you probably see it more in those passive aggressive texts from your ex-girlfriend or sarcastic Facebook comments that appear on your timeline; it’s those three little dots (…) which represent a loaded pause in the conversation. A pause is exactly what Biffy Clyro’s seventh studio album implies. After the 2013 release of Opposites and subsequent touring, not to mention writing 14 new songs, the band took a much-needed gap year and put off Ellipsis’ release until 2016. Some things need time to mature, to age to perfection. Biffy Clyro had two years to do just that, so it’s no wonder the band called it “the best record we’ve made.”
With their newest release, the band isn’t so much testing the waters as they are plunging full speed ahead into the waves. The band has been vehement in the past about resisting stagnation—after several decades together, it must be incredibly easy to fall into a pattern of writing, rinsing, and repeating. The album oscillates with ease between arena alt-rock, electronic, funk, and singer-songwriter melodies, steadfastly refusing to fall into a rut.
There is a myriad of colorful details that add to “Friends and Enemies”, a strangely upbeat diatribe about betrayal that features a children’s choir behind frontman Simon Neil’s lilting accent. “Flammable” has a funky, thrumming bassline that takes the rock anthem to the next level.
At the other end of the spectrum are tracks like “Medicine”, a heartfelt acoustic ballad that touches on the dark times Neil experienced while writing the album. It’s a deeply personal, intimate portrayal of the struggle against inner demons, and it’s a far cry from the hard-hitting rock songs scattered throughout Ellipsis, with lines like “Tell me why can’t this be enough / When is high ever high enough? / It’s all I’ve ever hoped for”.
Biffy Clyro’s seventh studio album is a departure from their past efforts, but in the best possible way. The band remains remarkably unconstrained by the idea of what their albums should be, and instead they’re pushing themselves to evolve, grow, and evolve again. It’s pretty inspiring to see a band, especially one that might otherwise be heading for heritage-act status, constantly striving for new, adventurous territory. In the case of Ellipsis, it really does pays off.