Having not released a record since 2009’s Only Revolutions graced our shelves, it came as something of a surprise when, in January of last year, it was announced that the band was working on a full-blown double album. Perhaps they were just making up for lost time, continuing to follow a biennial release schedule or, just maybe, this was a sign of something more exciting. Needless to say the prospect was divisive amongst fans; a double album is notoriously hit or miss, often alienating the less hardcore of an artist’s following. The concept, too, was ambitious: The Sand At the Core of Our Bones would focus on the deterioration of relationships; The Land at the End of Our Toes would detail the aftermath, the picking up of the pieces.
The album, presumably the first of the titularly opposing halves (although quite why they decided on the name escapes me, there being precious little difference between the two), begins with fire in its eyes. By the third track, ‘Sounds Like Balloons’, the bizarre combination of guitar and harp strumming becomes a little unnerving. The first CD flits mechanically between Reading-readied rock anthem and a more interesting, quieter vibe. The problem is that it’s so easy to spot. Only in ‘Little Hospitals’ is there evidenced any attempt to combine the two genres which dichotomise the album and, at times, it can be a little predictable in a ‘the last was loud, the next will be quiet’ sort of way.
Lyrically, the whole thing is unremarkable. I thought it might just have been me, but was pleased to find that The Telegraph picked up on the same bizarre bit of nonsensical pop-rhyme that I’d found troublesome: “Where are you at?”, asks Mr Clyro, “Is it trumpet or tap?”, he continues; “Are you glued to the wall by this terrible snap?” he intones. Why no, Biffy, I’m not. I’m afraid I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.
I think that this will be received with no small degree of ambivalence: to fans of the Scottish rockers, this may well be the magnum opus for which they spent the last four years pleading with a deity; to others amongst us who aren’t quite as taken with them, it was a bit of a struggle. Whilst the feat is admirable in its monumental size, the lack of consistency undermines its every turn.