time to change the way we view music and the arts

Biffy Clyro look within for The Myth of The Happily Ever After

Cover art for music album. Abstract design of many colors, a bright red paint stripe runds across the middle of the image

Image courtesy of artist


When it comes to entertainment, sequels, crossovers, or blending of established material of any kind, can incite immediate concern among anyone who has already experienced the foundational art at hand. There’s the primary concern of watering down context of a work that, on its own, is otherwise creatively strong and appreciable. Then there’s a concern of creating new confusion and-or a retconning of conceptual understandings around the original material. Still and all, Scottish alt-rockers, Biffy Clyro, went ahead  anyway, and wrote The Myth of The Happily Ever After (Warner Music, 2021) – a sibling record to A Celebration of Endings (Warner Music, 2020), which is self-described as a “reaction to the last 18 months.”


Three men standing close together outdoors, looking off in the distance,

Image courtesy of artist | Photo credit: Kevin J. Thomson

Biffy Clyro is:
Simon Neil (Guitar, Vocals)
James Johnston (Bass, Vocals)
Ben Johnston (Drums, Vocals)


On the one hand, as the band’s ninth studio album, The Myth of The Happily Ever After comes at a time in Biffy Clyro’s overall career where, most bands of their stature would have the freedom to be able to say, “We’ve proven ourselves, it doesn’t matter what this record is, it’s what we want to make and that’s what matters.” On the other hand, A Celebration of Endings was such a musically bold, emotionally confident statement of a record that one wouldn’t presume a band with such a passionate and meticulously devoted following would want to do anything that would risk chipping away at any part of the band’s own highly applauded work. The thing is, as the trio did somewhat embrace the former mentality with “The Myth” embracing a connective project with the confidence they did is exactly what prevented this new album from chipping away at the solidity of A Celebration of Endings. The threads of relation between the two albums are there.

However, Neil, James and Ben didn’t overthink the need to illuminate their presence with excessive parallels, corny easter eggs, or anal retentive lyrical revelations (save for the last line of the record.) Sure, the album cover calls to mind a similar visual aesthetic and the music carries within it, an explosive undercurrent and instrumental arrangement of a sonically resonant nature to its predecessor. But beyond that, “The Myth” stands on its own as an album with a statement, otherwise tied to “A Celebration” mostly just through its linear place in time and a true-to-life acknowledgement of the events going on around the band during the making of either record. Going into “The Myth” with this mentality, it’s much easier to appreciate the music for what it is by itself, without writing off Biffy Clyro as simply doing “whatever,” at the potential expense of something already deemed great.

For all of its compositionally complex, instrumentally diverse merits, one thing that stands out about The Myth,” is its looser stylistic flow of creativity. Each of the 11 tracks bursts at the seams with rich production values and a range of distances between singer, instrument, and listener. On “Haru Urara,” one of the album’s more dynamically subdued tracks, Neil sounds up close and personal, as though he’s singing to the audience through mic within a smaller, enclosed, and drier room. Yet the band’s backing is made to sound farther away – not disconnected entirely from Neil in some awkward way but given a sense of grander presence, like the hard drum hits, thick bass chords, and piercing guitar are working to fill a bigger space. The beginning of the track, with its notably minimal acoustic guitar-propelled opening, almost feels out of sorts from Biffy’s expected arena-sized M.O. (even acoustic takes on tracks like “Celebration of Endings’recording of “Space” at Abbey Road Studios, was at once unplugged but meant to sound larger-than-life in its delivery and emotional impact.)



All the same, view “The Myth’s” reactionary context – its purpose as an outlet for all this time in pandemic uncertainty – as an emotionally open canvas and it’s perfectly within Biffy’s artistic wheelhouse. The aforementioned stylistic looseness comes through in the album’s vacillating sense of intensity. Tracks lie “Errors in the History of God,” “A Hunger in Your Haunt,” and “Denier,” project Biffy’s classic alternative rock assertiveness through tone-dense chords, layered vocal harmonizing in the choruses, and succinct rhythmic hooks that will easily prompt head banging in a socially-distanced festival mosh pit. The album however, doesn’t focus on trying to place these more structurally familiar tracks in an order of ever-rising impact like a mountain or a rollercoaster. Rather, the album unfurls with dramatic peaks and drastic valleys. The distances between each rise and drop, from track to track, are lined with the intermittent, unpredictable colors of the many timbres that, while not always the most hard-hitting or sonically aggressive, provide Biffy the ability to embody a wide range of expressions and states of being – the exact scenario all of the world faced, in billions of unique ways, over the last 18 months.

Whether its the metallic, long-sustaining synths opening up “Separate Missions,” the rounded, smooth, muted, and calming string plucks in “Holy Water,” the angular glitch tones overlaid on Neil’s vocals in “Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep” or the simply embrace of open silent space on “Witch’s Cup,” Biffy Clyro makes a statement with “The Myth,° that perfectly embodies the globally shared experience its intended to reflect upon and does so precisely by not caring as much ¡ at least not about the same kinds of aspects of an album’s development that one would normally presume a band would. And perhaps that’s what makes The Myth of the Happily Ever After so special: It’s a conjoined display of what it means to care a whole lot about the feelings built into the music of a record, while also letting go – or at least greatly loosening up – of the things that don’t matter. Doing the latter might sounds like the behavior of an arrogant band on their ninth record but in truth, it’s a decision of a band that can filter out the noise of a dense career and bring themselves back to the basics of connecting, with their audience, with each other as a group, and within themselves. “A Celebration of Endings” was driven by external observations and “The Myth of the Happily Ever After” is colored by internal ruminations. To go from a well-warranted “F–k everybody!” on “Cop Syrup” a year ago, to an equally well-warranted “Love everybody!” on “Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep” a year later, shows just how wide the spectrum of the human condition is and, how reflection on real life events happening around us can sound entirely different on an album, depending on whether the music reflects our external reactions or internal processing of what one is living through.

The Myth of the Happily Ever After is available now.
Find it on iTunes and streaming on Spotify.

Stay connected with Biffy Clyro through its official website and these social media platforms:

Twitter (@BiffyClyro)

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