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High school is or was the time of our lives. The music of the mid-2000s really defined the teenage scene - no one can forget the infectious pop punk / alternative rock anthems from that era; Fall Out Boy's 'Dance, Dance' and 'Sugar, We're Going Down', We The Kings' 'Check Yes Juliet', and Paramore's 'Misery Business' were only some of the big gems from that time, and even today they define us in that time of our lives.
Some may say pop punk is dead. Moose Blood challenges that statement. Their sound is a combination of today's punk scene and that mid-2000s rock. They're a fresh new blend of two beloved genres, but at the same time, it's just what you expect - and want.
As refreshing a return to this style may be, it's not exactly groundbreaking. It's certainly nostalgic, but by no means anything new. 'Pastel' starts the album and brings the memories flooding back, but once you get past that it's really just an average track. 'Honey' is slightly better, being that relatable love song about a match made in heaven. Much of the album, specifically 'Knuckles' has the sound of Biffy Clyro if they played pop punk. The middle section in a bit boring with how familiar everything sounds...
The problem with this album is that it's something we've heard before. It's nothing new, just a nostalgia trip. It's not a bad album, per se, but once you get past the fact it's a throwback to an important part of your life, it loses its flair. And that's if that era of music was important to you. If you're just listening to a pop punk record, it does get boring towards the center. The last taste or interest is in 'Shimmer', which is a very personal track with a fantastic ending. But other than that, it's a pretty dull, "heard it all before" album.
Moose Blood brings a new hope to this style of pop punk, though. Their sound may not be anything new, but its a gateway for others to follow suit. The doors of pop punk are opening again, and Moose Blood were the ones who dared to push through them. Is a new wave of pop punk coming? The dead has just been brought back alive.
Favorite Tracks: Shimmer, Honey
Least Favorite Track: Cheek
Rating: 70 / 100
Scotland's key rockers Biffy Clyro are back and bigger than ever in their new album, Ellipsis. After extensively touring for their last release (2013's Opposites), the band took a break for awhile before getting their blood flowing again. And here they are, back and in full force. Ellipsis brings all the jams - Biffy has never been in better shape.
One thing you need to know for any Biffy Clyro record: the riffs will have you off your feet. This album even goes relatively easy on the riffs for Biffy standards, but they do exist and they do make their presence well known. The riffs kick off immediately with opener 'Wolves Of Winter', the dark intro building into the thick riffs. Vocalist Simon Neil's vocals blend brilliantly with the driving guitars, especially in the second half of the second verse - that's some great stuff. Heavy yet melodic is always an awesome combo. The song's solo is also electrifyingly awesome, too. 'On A Bang' is led by the rolling distorted guitar powerchords, Neil's vocals chanting proudly and powerful in conjunction with the heaviness. The album's closer 'In The Name Of The Wee Man' is also packed with fast punches of energy in the riffs, while still finding quiet moments, including the brilliantly composed bridge, deceivingly quiet while building urgency into a massive ending to a massive record. Other jams include 'Flammable', a song with loads of groove and is extremely infectious. This song will get you moving in your seat just listening to it, the great alt. rock chorus keeping you at it's beckoning.
This album also sees a lot of a softer side of Biffy Clyro. When the riffs aren't pounding into your ears, there's a lot of poppier, lighter rock tunes going on, some songs even abandoning guitar as a focus in favor of something else. The poppier sound can be easily heard in 'Friends and Enemies', which has very uplifting vibe and definitely segues from the former opener track in a good way - it has that good balance of heaviness and poppiness to it that makes it a success. 'Animal Style' falls in the same category, though it has more of a stoner rock vibe instead. The chorus is big but focuses more on the vocals than the big guitars. 'Don't, Won't, Cheat' utilizes gang vocals in a great way, keeping their harmonies interesting while not detracting attention from the lead. The guitar in this one is also very interesting - it sounds complex, while still feeling generally simple. Then the album gets into 'Re-arrange', which is very sweet and quiet. It has a very gentle, almost lullaby-esque melody going with it that flows like a sweet breeze. It feels genuinely happy, and that's always welcome in any song. The quietest song on the record is the beautiful 'Herex', an acoustic track blending full acoustic guitars with angelic orchestras; an amazing song full of emotion. In an album the begins and ends huge, it's nice to find gentle gems like this at its core.
The poppy sound does feel a bit beaten to death by the end of the record, though. By the end of the record, the last of the pop-rock run with the song 'People', it just feels repetitive. When you hit 'Howl', it's almost like you've already heard the same song before - and done in a more engaging respect earlier on in the record. There's also the failed experiment with 'Small Wishes', that almost feels like a country song (that's probably where it fails with me, at least). It just feels so odd and out of place amidst a record otherwise filled with jams and ballads that it almost alienates the vibe the album had going on leading up to it.
Biffy Clyro never fails to impress. Ellipsis is a jam filled record, from the beginning to the very end it brings raw energy in the form of riffs, with moments of gentle emotion in between. Biffy has always been great at balancing jams and connective moments. Ellipsis is no exception. It's a standout in their already amazing discography. This band is back, and bigger than ever. Mon the biff!
Favorite Tracks: Wolves Of Winter, Flammable, In The Name Of The Wee Man
Least Favorite Track: Small Wishes
Rating: 87 / 100