10 Albums in 10 Days: Day 4
PUZZLE, BIFFY CLYRO, 2007
It could not be clearer that Biffy Clyro’s Puzzle means quite a lot to me, as I happen to have its symbol permanently inked in my arm.
Like other albums by the Scottish rockers (e.g. 2013’s Opposites, 2009’s Only Revolutions) Puzzle kicks off with a dramatic track with a long intro in Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies.
This brutally honest opening track title, along with lyrics such as “I’m drowning caught in a s*** tide/tape my face to the inside of love” and “time’s what we don’t have/everywhere I look someone dies/wonder when it’s my turn” is set up for the emotional journey you’re about to embark on for the next 56 minutes.
Puzzle was written at a challenging time for the band’s front man Simon Neil, as he came to terms with the loss of his mother, channelled in a beautiful tribute on Folding Stars as he mournfully sings “Eleanor/I would do anything for another minute with you cause it’s not getting easier/not getting easier”, a punchy, riffy track that would go on to become an acoustic staple in the bands’ live sets.
The stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are clearly explored throughout the tracks, with the denial and questioning of emotions in quieter track As Dust Dances, the anger of Get F***** Stud, the tragic combination of bargaining and sadness in Folding Stars and finally closing off the album with acceptance, in the form of my personal favourite song by the band, Machines, stating “I’ve started falling apart I’m not savouring life/I’ve forgotten how good it could be to feel alive”, a metaphor for closing the door on this chapter of grief in Neil’s life and moving forwards.
Puzzle is dark, emotional and complicated. It will make you cry while making you feel stronger through difficulties in life. Musically, it explores from Biffy Clyro’s earlier heavy riffs and pounding drums while weaving in elements of orchestral rock, with sneaky little in between tracks to interlace the album together very deliberately. Both emotionally and musically, it’s nothing short of brilliant and sets up for the further experimentation the band dabbles in on future albums Opposites and A Celebration Of Endings.