Travis Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight: Album Review

Travis Scott is a rapper from Houston, Texas and is currently signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music record label. After his breakout album ‘Rodeo’ in 2015, Travis has soared to monumental heights in the rap industry and is now one of the most sought after artists in the genre. With his unique style and unbridled ability to make hooks that are catchier than anyone else’s (Antidote, Champions, 3500) Travis Scott has become a household name and now he’s back with another album. ‘Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight’ was released off the back of a couple of very strong single releases in ‘Wonderful’ featuring The Weeknd, and the more recent ‘Pick Up The Phone’ featuring fellow up and comer Young Thug, both of which were welcomed as some of Travis’ best work. Let’s see if this album puts Travis “straight up” to the top of the modern hip hop scene or if he remains in the trap.

the ends (feat. Andre 3000 & James Blake) – 9/10
After looking up the features on this song I got more excited than you could ever imagine, seeing one of the world’s best even rappers in Andre 3000 and such a poetic soul as James Blake alongside Travis on the same song is enough to give anyone a buzz, and let me tell you the song doesn’t disappoint. Moody and electronic in the vocals, the autotune is even more wobbly than it usually is with Travis but it works an absolute treat on this. His verse is hot as well and goes alongside one of the coolest beats I’ve heard in a while. I just absolutely the love the way this song switches up so regularly and cuts from an autotuned hook to a hard rap. Andre 3000’s verse is seriously good as well but when does he ever drop off? There’s another shot at Drake here as he talks about “a label with recruitment people” of course referring to his OVO label and getting them to do work for him. I wonder if Drake will respond at some point? Either way it’s a huge opener to the album and it bumps very hard.

way back (feat. Kid Cudi & Swizz Beats) – 9.5/10
Once again, the features are a huge drawing point, as we hear one of the best producers in the game in Swizz Beats and also the hook King himself Kid Cudi, as long as he doesn’t try and be punk rock in this we will be ok. That hook is fantastic, Travis delivers once again and really puts a hype song out there once again. One thing that’s apparent on this one is his bars, he has really stepped it up recently and focuses on the rap side, especially considering he can’t get much better at making a hook. The chorus on this song is catchy as hell and just has an assortment of noise all around it, whether it be ad-libs or a hard underground bass track or Travis’ hook, I love it all. The switch up half way through is what I live for, beautiful transition into what sounds like a completely different song in its smooth beat which has high pitched synths and backing harmonies at the forefront. Kid Cudi’s part is as solid as it gets in terms of contributing to a bouncy and memorable hook and once his work is done you can see Travis bringing back his iconic “yeah” screeches on the ad-libs. The Swizz influence on the beat is massive too and he really moulded a colossal track here, arguably better than the intro. Start to finish it’s brilliant.

coordinate (feat. Blac Youngsta) – 8/10
This Blac Youngsta rapper has a big feature here and I believe it’s him at the start of the track talking about this album and wearing “rockstar jeans” which is just typical behaviour of people as rich as Travis Scott. He continues this in the hook when he raps about his “rockstar skinnys” and how he wears them to impress all these girls, it’s catchy and bouncy, I really like this hook. It does occasionally get a bit dull in the repetitive aspect but as it is about to annoy you it cuts out and moves back into a new direction and gives you a new sound. The verses are cool and quirky, they’re never going to touch you emotionally or be groundbreaking but for what they are, which is lyrics to suit a catchy banger, they work. The beat is modern and funky, it has a real underground sound to it and I really like that element of it, it’s something which Travis has used all the way through his career. This is another great song, even if it doesn’t hit the heights of the first two in the hooks or bars it certainly does with the beat.

through the late night (feat. Kid Cudi) – 8.5/10
Another Cudi feature and this is what he should stick to, hip-hop hooks. When he’s at his best, he delivers some of the best hooks going, such as the one on Kanye West’s Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 where he is untouchable and a real star. On this song, he takes over and really uses his influence to his advantage, it sounds like an old school Cudi hit and that’s such a great thing because there were worries that we’d never hear that again. Travis doesn’t show up on his own song until about 2 minutes in where he begins to recite Kid Cudi’s Day N Nite hit chorus before going in his own direction, I don’t know if I enjoyed that lyric or not but I know I did vibe to his verse. I particularly enjoyed the faint catchphrases of “it’s lit” and “yeah” in the background which gave Travis control of his own song back. The beat is cool and has some really bumpy snares on it which give it a sharpness and poignance that stands out above all. The song is first half Cudi, second half Travis which is good but I would have liked to have seen a bit of integration between the pair of them rather than taking it in turns, the fusion of the pair of them would’ve been very interesting indeed. Either way it’s another hype track with a filthy beat and a stupidly catchy hook.

beibs in the trap (feat. Nav) – 7.5/10
A bit more psychedelic and stuttered with the beat but it’s a really nice switch up from those underground vibes we’ve heard previously. The feature of Nav is red hot, he really takes off at the beginning and carries on building momentum from there with a smooth hook and chorus to fit, he’s probably a contender for the best feature on the album to be honest as it’s hard to fault his performance in any way. Once Travis appears this psychedelic trippy style backing track gets louder and is joined with a harder beat and louder bass, almost as like a warning of his arrival. Travis’ verse is strong, there’s not much else to say on it really as he goes off about drugs, sex and money, the three main things in Travis’ life alongside looking like a Mortal Kombat character on his album cover. It’s a good song with yet another banging beat but I do feel like it drags slightly towards the end. Top feature showing from Nav too.

sdp interlude (feat. Cassie) – 8.5/10
Not much of an interlude this one, standing at over 3 minutes long but I won’t complain if there’s more time listening to this so far fantastic project. The beat starts off steady and progressively picks up lore unique sounds along the way before going quite stop/start and varied. The hook is wobbly and trippy at times but it can also be a bit boring. I have to say that this is a really cool song and an incredibly interesting new direction as he shows no verses or even anything in the way of structure, but with the help of the elegant backing vocals of Cassie, he creates a rhythmic and melodic sound while also keeping it in check as a certified banger. Brilliant once again.

sweet sweet – 6.5/10
A very distorted and kind of oriental sounding beat which you’re not going to hear from many other artists because it’s just too strange. It’s an instrumental which fits into the style of Travis’ vocals perfectly, whether it be his iconic ad-libs, his verses or even the high notes he hits in the chorus, the whole thing just fits. Despite this, the lyrics themselves are just brainless and bizarre, the verses aren’t particularly impressive and I do feel he’s put a lot of attention on trying to make the track sound like an experimental banger rather than an actually top quality song. I do like the way the song goes psychedelic at the end however and I feel it salvages some form of credibility at the very death. It’s a good song but it’s not going to be groundbreaking and it won’t be played outside of a full album listen.

outside (feat. 21 Savage) – 7.5/10
Recently inducted XXL freshman class rapper 21 Savage adds a decent twist to this song but does fall short in comparison to Travis’ performance on this song which I have to say is one of his best showings on the album. It’s a catchy anthem with a bouncy beat and a very rhythmic flow. The song’s dynamic completely changes when Savage starts rapping as we have an even more distorted sound with a lot of fuzzy audio disturbance on the instrumental. The song does pass you by quite quickly unfortunately as I would have liked perhaps one more verse from Travis but the song itself is bouncy and catchy.

goosebumps (feat. Kendrick Lamar) – 9/10
This is the one we are waiting for. As soon as the feature list was released the whole internet was bursting with excitement to hear Kendrick Lamar with a Travis Scott hook, it’s a combination which is enough to resort any modern hip hop fan to an extreme case of fangirling. This hook doesn’t disappoint as its over another snare heavy beat which also has those synth fades which have almost become a Travis Scott trademark. Travis’ verse is very long but there’s no complaints from me as it just seems to get better and better as it goes on. Kendrick’s verse is just trippy and bizarre but it’s fantastic, he changes vocally in his tone and pace so many times and it’s just great, when he hits the latter stages and hits those constant rhymes, that’s why he’s the best rapper in the world at the moment. Brilliant song.

first take (feat. Bryson Tiller) – 8/10
From one fantastic feature to another, Bryson and Travis is sure to create sparks of supreme levels and when I saw them collaborating I for one couldn’t wait. It’s a very slow beat which has all sorts of sounds and backing vocals in its assistance, whether they be from Travis overlapping himself vocally or an autotuned high pitched harmony. It’s a really cool beat and suits the track’s meaning perfectly as he goes on about this girl who is seemingly perfect and he’s willing to give up everything for. It’s a rare occasion from Travis Scott in that we actually have the unraveling of a story within his lyrics in a song and it works brilliantly. As Bryson Tiller builds up for his part you hear his voice begin with authority before he’s even said a word and is just harmonising. His verse is catchy and for me, better than Travis’ as he does what he does best, singing about sex and how many people are after him. Groovy song and I think it’ll be added to playlists for quite a while, dead catchy.

pick up the phone (feat. Young Thug, Quavo & Starrah) – 10/10
This is one of my favourite songs of 2016, that’s all you need to know. One of the best hooks Travis has ever done, one of the catchiest beats he’s ever likely to do, some of the best verses from both Thugger and Travis as they go with serious pace and energy. There are just so many layers to the instrumental it’s amazing, from Caribbean drum sounds to heavy snares and Travis ad-libs. They are just two rappers who fit together perfectly and the sound they create together is so unique and modern. I also love the album title reference in Travis’ verse which he slows down before kicking straight back into life with a great verse. Just a huge hit and I’ll fight its corner against anyone who disagrees. Easily one of the picks of 2016 rap music for me.

lose (feat. Cassie) – 8/10
This is a song which takes a bit of a darker tone with the whole sound, from the heavy underground beat to the mysterious vocal of Travis on the hook. To me at least, it sounds a bit like an instrumental from The Weeknd’s discography in general until the snares are introduced and Travis really adds his own flavour to it. I really like the chorus on this song with the heavy autotune on the lyrics as well as the slight beat switch up. The second chorus changes massively as Cassie joins in with a hushed vocal and is twinned with a trippy overlapping excess noise on the beat. I think this is the most lyrically catchy song on the whole album other than maybe ‘Pick Up The Phone’ and I think it would be a standout if it hard a bit more of a hard banger style delivery as there are times in the song where it could be accused of being weak and feeble. It is still a good song, however with a strong beat and memorable lyrics with an intense hook.

guidance (feat. K. Forest) – 8/10
An upbeat and bouncy beat with a heavily autotuned hook even by Travis’ standards. It’s a really cool sound and something we haven’t heard that often from Travis Scott before so I’m welcoming this change in style to the usually dark underground beats. I also really enjoy the feature of K Forest who is a relatively unknown artist being given a big platform with this song and he uses his chance well for the limited time he has to demonstrate his talents. The song is clever with its structure in that we appear to unravel a strong narrative within it as Travis raps about this girl who is off the beaten track and “needs some guidance” in the form of him. As the song goes on it slows down and it slowly reduces aspects of the song before cutting into the next song. I really like this and it’s probably the most unique song he’s done on this album along with ‘Pick Up The Phone’.

wonderful (feat. The Weeknd) – 9/10
This is a song that anyone who follows Travis Scott will have already heard due to it now being released for about 8 months, it’s quite a surprise he’s put it on the album really and not just left it as a stand alone single. For those of you who haven’t already heard it, let me tell you this, it’s fantastic. The combination of The Weeknd’s voice and Travis’ quirky hype works an absolute treat as they both deliver brilliant elements of their own and bring them together to fuse this “wonderful” song. The Weeknd’s vocals are as crisp and on point as ever and Travis’ rap verses are some of the best bars he’s ever done in terms of flow and delivery. It’s a song which brags all about parties, girls, drugs and alcohol, it’s a huge hit and a song which I’ve loved for months on end. A great finale for a great album.

Overall – 8.5/10
I. LOVE. THIS. ALBUM. Travis came through with a hard hitting, trap influenced hip hop album which is, in my opinion, a top 3 of the year so far. From the first track to the very last I can’t pinpoint a single track I really disliked, there was just one which I will skip in future but other than that he’s knocked it out the park. The doubters thought he wouldn’t top Rodeo but I think he’s just done it and with this album he suddenly becomes a household name in the hip hop genre, a man to look out for without a doubt. He made me enjoy a song which had Young Thug on it and for that he’s a miracle worker.

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Jamie T – Trick: Album Review

Jamie T is one of Britain’s most loved and highly thought of solo artists and at just 30 years of age, has already established himself as a top level performer with his unique lyrics which are made relatable to the ‘broken youth’ of today. He burst onto the scene in 2007 with his debut album ‘Panic Prevention’ which boasted the quite remarkable hit ‘Sheila’, a song which has stood the test of time as one of the best of his generation. A follow up album soon followed in ‘Kings & Queens’ which was arguably his best work. He then went on hiatus and made a stunning return in 2014 with smash hit track ‘Zombie’ which prompted the return of his third studio album ‘Carry On The Grudge’. It was a triumphant return which made the youth fall in love with the South London singer all over again and now he’s back once more to deliver for his fans. Will we see his usual cheeky yet heartfelt take on his upbringing here or will it be a dip in form? Let’s find out as I review Jamie T’s ‘Trick’.

Tinfoil Boy – 4/10
Bitterly disappointed with this track from the moment it was released. This isn’t the Jamie T we know and love at all, this has the sound of a Slaves B-side and they’re a completely different entity to Jamie T. They don’t try to be lyrical and relatable, they’re there to be energetic and make noise, so if this is the tone he’s going down I’m really not going to like it, not one bit. The chorus is unoriginal and just unnecessarily shouty and noisy, it’s a real irritant to listen to. I mean at least it starts off with a bit of meaning, the build up is confident and dark in the verse but it’s just the outburst which I don’t get, it makes no sense. Anyway I’ll stop ranting about this because I’ve used up too much energy thinking about it. Poor start, onto the next one.

Drone Strike – 7/10
This is more like it! The audio clip at the start is cool and sets a decent tone to the whole song, I also absolutely love the beat in the verse; it’s electronic, fast paced and energetic. We all knew Jamie T could rap quite well given tracks like Chaka Demus and Sticks & Stones but this is great in the verse, talking about being dragged off the pavement after drunken nights out like a classic Jamie T song. I’m not huge on the chorus though, it’s much like Tinfoil Boy in the way that it’s far too simple for me, it’s just a load of noise and repetition of the same thing, it can drain you at times. Unlike the previous song, however, you actually get the feeling that he’s meaning something by not only saying “watch out for the drones” but also in the way he delivers it. His vocal is being attacked by an electronic sounding autotune and that’s clever in that these “drones” are sucking the life out of everyone, including him. That is why he’s telling people to watch out for them. Very clever indeed. This is a far better song with a far better and more concise piece of context, well done Jamie.

Power Over Men – 8/10
Such a groovy song with a vintage Jamie T flavour. A real prophet’s tale of the modern domineering woman who has complete “power over men” in every regard. He mentions her “tattoos” and how he spots her at “the bar” as he completes this stereotype of the archetypical powerful woman and I like that as it shows a bit of intimidation on the part of Jamie T and he delivers it in such a way which makes you feel his fear which is a great skill to have. The song itself as I said before is groovy and impossible not to move along to in some way, whether it be tapping toes or swaying heads. The guitar playing is strong and poignant and in the chorus it adds a dark and mysterious tone to the song and thus to the woman in question. It’s a slightly unoriginal chorus once again, however as he persists with repeating the same line again but because the instrumental is so cool I’ll let him off this time. Really decent song this, we are getting closer to that old school Jamie T we grew to love.

Tescoland – 8/10
In a song called ‘Tescoland’ are we really surprised that the start is a customer announcement? And are we really surprised that, given its a Jamie T song, this announcement is regarding a suicide of some sort? No? Okay then let’s get on with the song. Despite the wacky beginning this song really kicks into gear from the off a strong bass riff and bouncy beat twinned with a great verse from Jamie himself who transitions into the chorus so smoothly as if there was no change at all. I do really like the lyrics on this song, particularly in the chorus where he states that Americans will never understand our youth culture of “walking through Tescoland” and it’s such a relatable lyric for young people all over the country. The guitar riff is so funky and cool it sounds like a Kings & Queens cut which I’m really happy about as it shows a real possibility of a return to form. It’s a really cool song and brings back the best aspects of Jamie T as an artist, clever lyricism with such a British feel to it.

Police Tapes – 7/10
Bit of a darker song this one as Jamie sounds a bit angrier over a grimey bass riff and sings/raps about getting into trouble on the streets of London while growing up, saying that “I never felt so low”. The message within the song really touches on important issues from all over the globe, such as racial discrimination, political corruption and the untrustworthiness of the media and it really does have the sound of a public service announcement or a rant in some places. Like as a song, it’s not brilliant but I’m 99% sure that’s not the intention Jamie was going for here, I feel pretty confident that the purpose of this song is to send a message and allow the youth to speak up about global issues, which is something he’s been strongly linked with his whole musical career so it’s admirable to see him stick to his roots in that regard. It’s getting a 7/10 for the sheer power of it alone, as a song it doesn’t really do it for me as it gets repetitive at the worst of times but due to the message and meaning it deserves a lot of credit.

Dragon Bones – 7.5/10
Bouncy track with a different style of Jamie T to what we are usually used to as he uses a bit more melody in the chorus and raises his pitch in the verse. This is done to match the distinct backing track which is obscure and almost squeaky at times but I do really like it as it’s unique and unlike anything we have heard from him in a long time. Lyrically the chorus is quite bleak and upsetting as he talks about turning a gun on himself which doesn’t really match this distorted yet upbeat instrumental. It’s a distressing love song about how he is need of guidance from the person he loves because he’s falling apart a bit and having suicidal tendencies, it could be a track involved with drug and alcohol abuse as he talks about being “dragged home” and being “50000 feet up in the clouds” perhaps in reference to being intoxicated by hallucinogenics. It’s a trippy anthem but a good one, another great tale told by Jamie in a way which unravels stories about his past.

Joan Of Arc – 9/10
I love this song, really smooth guitar riff with a harmonic backing vocal which supports the catchy tune and lyrics. A real contender for the best song on the album with its bouncy and swaying instrumental as well as the tale being told within the lyrics. It’s another love tale of lust, passion but also deep romance and the notion of forgiving and forgetting. I really like how the song progresses from start to finish as though it’s a period of growing up over time and becoming more appreciative of this girl and understanding what she wants. “Those three kind words she’d never heard said” of course implying that she was used a lot for sexual purposes as opposed to being told that someone does love her and so there’s this level of sympathy for “Joan of Arc” in this scenario and that’s what Jamie is trying to put across, she isn’t at fault for anything, she’s just a girl who makes mistakes along her road of love. It’s a really nice, progressive song which gets better every time you listen to it.

Solomon Eagle – 8/10
Underground drum beat with echoed vocals at the start of the song before moving into a grimier rap in which he speaks about police brutality and the treatment of the youth on the streets of London. I would usually be annoyed by a chorus like this because there are moments you really struggle to hear what he’s saying but I think it suits the whole basis of the song and makes the atmosphere of it that bit more dark and mysterious, much like the young gang culture of London today. An absolutely brilliant hard-hitting insight into what goes on deep inside that mob mentality, relating the “Solomon Eagle” to this overseer of what is going on and something that will judge you based on your actions. I really like the lyrics in the chorus they are fantastically clever and thought provoking in that they leave you questioning all you have ever learnt religiously. Jamie T states that “retribution comes from above” and says that it’s not Satan who brings out this violence and rebellious attitude. It’s just so layered and has so many deep avenues within it and as far as Jamie T songs go, it’s right up there with some of the most challenging yet mesmerising concepts to date. Again, however as a song it lacks something and I can’t really describe what it is, there’s just not a musical spark to push it over the line to near perfection but it’s still great.

Robin Hood – 8.5/10
A complete change of mood and scenery here with a guitar riff which wouldn’t go amiss on a cheesy 2000s children’s sitcom. It’s a tale all about youth and how fickle and simple it was for us when we were younger but there was always people who strived for different things. Some want to be rappers, but as Jamie describes this particular boy he mentions how he wants to be “like Robin Hood” behind a funky and catchy beat. I like how it does have the aspect of the simpler things in life when we were all younger but it also has that ability to change up and be about the brilliance of everyone’s brain and their dreams. The song turns quite aggressive towards the end as Jamie sings in the bridge about this girl he calls Sally and her mum having a conversation about the boy, Johnny, who wanted to be Robin Hood. It’s a typical mother/daughter romance chat until it’s described as “everybody loves a bank robber” and that is repeated a few times right before an explosion of energy to bring the song to a close. It completely changes the dynamic of the song and instead shows off Johnny as a troubled soul rather than one that’d been set free. Clever song which leaves you hooked right until the end, and this time there’s an actual catchy element to it so I can rate it as an actual song. Great track.

Sign Of The Times – 8.5/10
Slow ballad sound but with a thrashing and raw electric guitar providing the backing track and that uncut aspect of it is something I really enjoy as it gives us a sense of being there involved with the song it’s great. A deflating tone on the song, particularly in the second verse area where Jamie repeats “I’m not enough” when talking about this relationship he was in. There really is a fragility to Jamie here as he pours out his feelings about how he was made to feel and the lessons he has learned from this relationship, describing this girl as “a sign of the times” perhaps to avoid people like her in the future. Even with that there is still a lingering feeling of want and desire as he sings about wishing he had acted differently when in the relationship when really it wasn’t him at fault. It’s as tender as a song with a huge electric guitar in the background can be but the lyrics really bring you down to earth and make you realise it’s not all that great. A lovely song which was stripped back and kept simple, I for one am very grateful for that as we got to hear a more emotional side to Jamie T.

Crossfire Love – 8.5/10
This is another one which sounds like more of an emotional ballad and even when he does break into a rap it’s still full of heartfelt lyrics and self deprivation. As his words get quicker it seems he gets sadder and sadder, more and more stressed with every breath and with that comes more emotional lyrics and seemingly more things going wrong with his life as a result. Lyrics about his mum falling ill alongside having relationship problems show Jamie off as having a borderline mental breakdown in the middle of the song as he rushes to sing his song and tell us all the problems he has. It’s really distressing and gives out a huge amount of empathy of behalf of the listener. I really like the chorus of this song as he uses the fairly childish onomatopoeia of “crash, bang, wallop” as a metaphor of his current mental state and life situation as everything seems to crumble around him. It’s also perhaps an apology to this girl as he says that the reason he may act out of line is because of all of these acts, hence why she is “caught in the crossfire.” Another passionate song which shows a real fragility to Jamie’s personality, but certainly not as a songwriter, fantastic stuff.

Self Esteem – 7/10
Another album, another longest song being put at the end, I’m telling you all my conspiracy is coming into play. Anyway enough of that, this song is the weakest and lowest point we have ever seen Jamie T as he sings shyly and with a fragile tone over a crackled acoustic guitar and a mysterious bass build up. It’s him finally accepting his fate almost and as the song suggests, his “self esteem” has hit the ground. The whole song is distorted and crumbly and it’s a direct representation of how he feels at that moment of writing it. I hate to keep referring to this album on my reviews but I have to here, it’s like if Kid Cudi’s ‘Speedin Bullet 2 Heaven’ was good, this is what it’d sound like, and even then that’s not great, like I do tire of this dog quite easily but given its placement in the context of the album I completely get it. A swift conversation with his thoughts at the latter stages of the song make for bizarre but emotional listening and round off the song quite well. Strange song for a strange mindset, gave to us exactly what he was trying to portray, but that doesn’t make it a fantastic song.

Overall – 8/10
It’s a great album this, Tinfoil Boy is the rare low point of an otherwise moody and relatable approach to relationships, death, crime and punishment. I love how the album unraveled itself from an explosive start of energy and almost pride in himself to this crumbled figure we hear at the end, it’s his own documentation of the rise and fall of his private life. Compared to his other albums? There are some songs on here which sound like true Jamie T classics but there are also cuts that are fresh and original, the main thing that stands out with this album is the way it maps itself out and becomes almost like a motion picture with the finale, it’s stunning in a way. For me, it’s great and he should be really proud of it, but a bit of my heart will never shift away from those first two albums and this doesn’t change that opinion. Still an absolutely stellar job though and I’d recommend the album to most.

Blossoms – Blossoms: Album Review

Blossoms are a young emerging band hailing from Manchester, holding the hopes of so many that this magnificent music culture can continue to thrive throughout the city which gave us The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Oasis. They have been recognised as a talented group for quite a while now and are a prime example of the successes of the BBC Introducing scheme for new acts and the fame that can bring. This album has been highly anticipated after the release of hit single ‘Charlemagne’ which had such a fresh and modern sound to it and left many people intrigued as to what was next. With this album going straight in at number 1 in the UK album charts it’s a real sign of things to come not only for this band, but for bands all over the country. It’s apparent to see that this eponymous debut album has gone down a treat with fans, but how will I rate it? Let’s see what Blossoms are made of.

Charlemagne – 9/10
The lead single from the album and you can really see why. It’s a commercial smash hit and has provided optimism and belief that bands are making a comeback. It’s a short track in length but it is such a huge hit you can’t really complain, the hook and chorus is as catchy as it gets, the instrumentation is unique and modern. I love the synth used in the chorus as it really gives the song an identity and links with this modernist style of love song which is utilised very well lyrically. Imagery of nature and surroundings used to show how far he will go for his love, or his “Charlemagne” if you will. Banging track, easy to see why the band’s hype sky rocketed after this was released.

At Most A Kiss – 7.5/10
Some more modern synth on keyboards mixed in with a classic band sound on this song. The bass riff is fantastic on this, a real gem of a pace keeper for the rest of the sounds on this song, especially considering the fairly simplistic drum beat. The backing harmonies really add effect and power to the vocals on this song which do for me, at times, seem a bit isolated and drowned out. Despite that, the lyrics are again a modern outlook on love and the direction taken to find it. It’s a good song this one, the bass guitar and high pitch synth being the standouts.

Getaway – 7/10
A bit more stripped back and raw in the sound as we have a slow build up of sounds in the first verse before a harmony heavy chorus which holds the clever lyric “I’m over you, get under me” which has been a regular lyric used by fans to show their love for the band and this album. It’s not an instantly recognisable song as a single I must admit but it does show that the band can slightly edit their sound while also carrying on with the habits that got them where they are. The repetition of “tonight we can get away” at the end of the song sound like desperation from the singer (in the song’s context that is) to offer a solution to this girl he loves in order to be together and I do think it’s an effective and strong piece to end on. Good song and nice show of variety by slowing it down a bit, but it’s no Charlemagne.

Honey Sweet – 9.5/10
This song has absolute rave reviews as being the best song on the album and one of the highlights of 2016 in the indie genre. Let me tell you that you can absolutely see why, I love everything about this song, from the subtle vocals to the funky 80s sounding instrumental in the chorus to the flow of the track from start to finish. It’s just top draw. This song is under no illusions and tells the listener exactly what they are thinking, it is almost as if he is singing the song addressing it directly at you which is a fantastic touch and will bring the bond between band and fan closer together. Absolutely rocking love song, can’t really fault it for the most part, it’s a catchy tune with an easily memorable chorus and an awesome backing track, what more can you ask for?

Onto Her Bed – 7.5/10
Smooth piano tune at the start of this sounds like something out of a 1950s romance film and once the vocals kick in, the song really has an awe factor about it. The vocals are harrowing and powerful, giving us something we’ve not heard before from this band in that slower ballad style and the ability to sing with immense power and talent. There are also very memorable moments to this track which become easy to recite and sing along to, particularly in the bridge area if there is such part of a song like this you could call a ‘bridge’. At just over 2 and a half minutes long, it’s hardly a long drawn out process listening to this song and I think given the context of the track and album, it’s about right in length in order to switch up the mood and then move it back onto normality. It’s a very good switch up and a nice track without a doubt.

Texia – 8.5/10
Such a funky and bouncy song with so much energy and joy weaved within it, from the guitar riff to the lyrics. The song itself is about a girl, presumably a very empowering woman who has the ruling of many men who are infatuated with her appearance. These men are “fooled by her lipstick” and stumble at her every movement and the lead singer has become part of this desire. I really like the context of this song and there is an element in the bridge of the song which sounds like a modern twist on a western film, something which is very much in fitting with the lyrics and is a brilliant touch on an already clever song. The chorus is catchy, the lyrics are smart, it’s just a great song.

Blown Rose – 7/10
If you listen to the first 15 seconds and hear anything but Losing My Religion by R.E.M. then you don’t have an ear for music, it’s so obviously similar it’s almost painful. It also has a smattering of the Tame Impala sound about it with the electronic mix on instruments and the psychedelic sound as they all bubble together in the melting pot that is the recording studio. His voice isn’t quite Kevin Parker’s, but it’s still smooth and catchy nonetheless, suiting the track in almost every way. The imagery of the ‘Rose’ is a decent little addition to this song as elements of love, nature and location come into play on this song, all of which work well with the Rose and sound really well. Look if this song didn’t sound like something that’s already been done before then I would love it, but there are unfortunately some aspects which have been borrowed shall we say. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad song because it is still a very good song.

Smashed Pianos – 7/10
On the surface at least, this song sounds a bit darker and a bit more mysterious, particularly with the isolated piano key and the initial muffled vocals. The song springing into life about 30 seconds in does it a world of favours and with that comes an increase in quality too as the chorus becomes catchy and upbeat at least in the instrumental. It’s clear to tell who the band’s influences are on this song, with some modern twists on classic bands oozing through this, the main one having to be The Beatles without a doubt with that psychedelic nature. I really like the lyricism on this song as he sings about the struggles of a relationship and uses “smashed pianos” as a metaphor for his mental state when they are at their lowest point. It’s clever and funky and such a relief that they pulled away from that dark side at the beginning because the song was all the better for it.

Cut Me And I’ll Bleed – 8/10
One of the best instrumentals on the whole album, I absolutely adore the way the bass guitar combines with that fast paced synth keyboard to make a lively and bubbly backing track. The verse does drag at times, unfortunately, but when it clicks in and out of the chorus it springs back into life and keeps everyone engaged, despite one of the most obvious lyrics I’ve ever heard in “cut me and I’ll bleed.” Yeah this song gets no bonus points for lyricism and rightfully so because there’s not a lot to the lyrics in all honesty. What there is a lot in is the guitar solo in the bridge, that is absolutely brilliant. Great song this, another toe tapping anthem but it would’ve been even better if they cut the fairly simplistic lyrics out.

My Favourite Room – 8/10
Acoustic and sensual sounding, it’s a vulnerable track in which the lead singer is left to himself to demonstrate his talents with just him and an acoustic guitar, along with the occasional help from backing vocals. I really like the realism and how relatable the lyrics are and the fact that it’s been made into a smooth and catchy song. The harmonies on the word “you” in the chorus are great and really set the atmosphere for the whole song. I also really enjoy the piano kicking in after the outcry of “you’re gonna get it girl” in the bridge before fading back into the original song structure. Simplistic but very effective, I’ve got a lot of time for this song. I’ve also got to say, having seen videos of this dog performed live, it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who enjoys this song.

Blow – 6/10
Once again it’s another dead cool and out there backing track with both the bass and the lead guitar being the stand out talents. The lyrics are more stripped back and have a huge rhyme scheme of just about every other word linking together and it does work for the most part I quite like it. The verse is completely separate from the chorus which is a key higher in vocals and the words are more elongated and harmonised, it’s in general a lot better than the verse. The song is saved from quite a dull ending by a great guitar solo which is helped a lot by some electronics but still has that raw sound to it at its core. This song isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it does strike me as the band trying to come across as experimental and interesting in their lyrics and it just doesn’t do it for me on this particular track.

Deep Grass – 7.5/10
Save the longest track for last seems to be a habit quite a few artists have taken recently but perhaps that’s me reading into things too much. This song is a bit all over the place in the sounds and backing track but it’s a good type of all over the place. It gives the song some life and some personality which is never a bad thing. I really enjoy this song and really am a big fan of those synthesised noises that work in sync with the vocals and make themselves known without being overpowering or irritating in any way. One complaint I may have is that it doesn’t need to be this long, you get the feeling even at about half way through this song that they’re blagging it a bit and carrying on for the sake of it. It’s still a great way to end the album and picks up towards the end, once again in thanking to the great guitar playing.

Overall – 8/10
This really is a great album and a stellar job well done by Blossoms, they’ve certainly turned me into a fan of their work and now I’m already excited to hear what they have next. This album was a bubbly and all round pleasant mix of synth/keyboard sounds which made the whole thing unique and modern, along with some classic band structure and great instrumentation. I also think Honey Sweet is one of the best indie tracks I’ve heard in a long time. Well done boys, keep this up and you could well be Manchester’s next big thing.

Frank Ocean – Blond/Boys Don’t Cry: Album Review

Frank Ocean. A man we were all convinced had disappeared off the face of the earth, that’s how long we were waiting for this new album. Every year since the release of his breakthrough solo project ‘Channel Orange’, the question has been posed as to when the follow up would come out. Countless amounts of missed deadlines and public eye disappearances later, and Frank Ocean finally did it. He dropped a video on Apple Music which he called ‘Endless’, there was no song list but we didn’t care, Frank’s tones were beautiful and moving and it was a blessing to have him back. A day later, he released ‘Blonde’, the official album with all different songs from ‘Endless’. So, is this really worth the wait, or will the R&B artist fail to deliver the necessary quality given the 4 year hype?

Nikes – 8/10
Hands down the weirdest song you’ll hear all year, I know it’s been four years but I know for a fact Frank’s voice hasn’t changed that much. I am of course joking and am aware that he has added an effect to his vocals to bring them up a few octaves and confirm his lunacy on this song. Anyway, the beat is phenomenal, like seriously good, one of the best this year in fact. Psychedelic, soulful and full of style. The song message itself is all about gold diggers and how they crave the finer things in life without needing to do anything for them. Even with that quite negative message aimed at these girls, Frank does show himself as available to help them with sexual favours, which in itself toys with us fans even more than ever due to the recent question marks over his sexuality. There are ebbs and flows to this song, peaks and troths if you will and it’s such a shame, because I feel that with a proper vocal on it, this would be without question one of the songs of the year, as demonstrated towards the end when Frank switches to his usual voice and it’s brilliant. Even with that in mind, I do see why he’s added that effect on the vocals as it does fit in with that psychedelic aspect to the beat, perhaps a drug fuelled moment. Great intro, albeit absolutely bonkers.

Ivy – 8/10
He’s very soft in his delivery here as each word seems hesitant to leave his mouth, either way the tone is absolutely perfect. The instrumental is cool too, it’s very much a guitar heavy sound with a bit of an electro funk wobble, I really like it as it’s still understated even with all of those aspects on display. Lyrically it’s on point as he sings about growing up with this person who he clearly loves but there are still troubles deep down. It’s a weakness deep down within Frank which does suggest to me that this is an uncovered homosexual relationship he’s singing about, perhaps something he’s getting out of his system to set the record straight. It’s a beautiful love anthem but my word does it have a bizarre ending, it’s just a scream from Frank as his voice is so massively modified you can hear the distinct electronic wobble as he struggles on a note. Really good again with the correct dose of weird.

Pink + White – 8.5/10
Smooth jazz beat on this one, sounds like a Tyler, The Creator experimental venture for the most part and I absolutely love it. Frank’s voice just slots in perfectly, it sounds so strong and mature. He follows this maturity within his tones by acting far more grown up lyrically here too, singing about past experiences and how he’s learning from them and becoming a better person as a result. At the same time he’s also having plenty of thanks for this special someone who he rates as a “glory from above” thanks to the amazing times they’ve spent together. I like the overlapping of the vocals towards the end as it harmonises very well and gives Frank the chance to be melodic while at the same time ply his rap trade once again. This is another great track, arguably better than the first two.

Be Yourself – N/A/10
This isn’t really a song but irregardless of what it is, it’s motivational and it’s moving. It’s not Frank Ocean speaking but it’s a woman, more than likely to be his mum, who is talking about the welfare of college students and their consumption of alcohol and drugs. It’s a hard hitting message about not being drawn into social norms, being yourself and not involving yourself in anything which can cause harm. I think it’s really fitting and a very important aspect of the album in that important life message he’s been taught and how it moulded Frank Ocean into the man he is now.

Solo – 9/10
This is Frank Ocean at his absolute best, the perfect balance between rapping and singing all about how cool he feels and his relationship stories. The beat on this song is a bit disjointed when we hear that screech on the odd occasion but in general it’s a very smooth organ tune which give Frank the chance to demonstrate his vocal range. I do really like the lyrics on this song too, it’s a bouncy and fun rap verse before switching to a more serious result in the chorus talking about how he feels like he’s better off “solo” or single. It’s a stripped back track full of soul and energy, I absolutely love it and can’t say enough about it.

Skyline To – 7.5/10
Once again the instrumental is more band oriented with that subtle guitar tune along with the extremely faint drums which appear on the track on very limited occasions. It’s a sensual love track with the occasional switch up into some fairly bizarre lyrics about car gears. It is still quite a heartbreaking song with that crushing thought of “summer’s not as long as it used to be” which could perhaps suggest a longing or a desire for something he had in a previous summer but not having the time to find it. Frank’s voice is amazing on this song, note for note he’s fantastic and does manage to keep us intrigued with some pretty sketchy backing harmonies along with some wacky rap bars midway through. It’s a good song still with a great motive behind it.

Self Control – 8/10
Nice fade from the previous track into this one with some faint wave crashes but any similarity completely vanishes with this strange robotic vocal at the start which is just strange. Once Frank’s vocals actually kick in they’re chilling and rhythmic, a stellar performance and arguably his strongest on this album. It’s just a shame we don’t get more of it and instead have to endure some very weird noises in the chorus, once again adding that awful chipmunk effect. It’s a beautiful ballad once again about how he’s falling apart because of love and perhaps the robotic and electronic sounds are a sign of his madness, the crazed and deranged direction that love has taken him down. It’s a great song with beautiful vocals and another strong message, what more can we ask for?

Good Guy – 7/10
A very short and snappy track with a cool smooth piano tune in the background and a muffled, walkie talkie effect vocal from Frank which varies in pace and seems to move up and down in octaves in a matter of seconds. Smooth lyricism and vocals again but it’s quite strange how we have this sudden change at the end to a conversation about having his heart broken. It’s a short and sweet track, I liked it and this time I felt like I could get on board with the irregular sounding vocals.

Nights – 9/10
Sway jam full of personality and swagger, it really offers a refreshing change up from the soft ballads we’ve heard previously. This time we see a more care free Frank, someone who refers to women as “bitches” and has sex with them rather than catching feelings, it’s a side Frank Ocean rarely finds so it’s nice to hear. The theme of this track is ‘day and night’ as Frank sings about daily routines and how he spends his time, as well as what the generic person may do in order to “get money.” Consistent links to sex, weed and money is an unlikely turn from Frank but I like this confident side and it really gives him a new lease on this album. The bridge is just crazy, a noise fit to give anyone a seizure but what it drops into is heavenly, that last minute of the song is as smooth as it gets, I love it so much. What a blinding song this is, well done Frank.

Solo (Reprise) – 8.5/10
Another short one and it’s a true blessing. Andre 3000 of OutKast blesses us with his presence and the verse he gives us is beyond good, absolute genius from one of the best to ever do it. It’s an amazing switch up from Frank’s soft and poetic tones to hear this raw, rapid fire verse from Andre and it’s one of the highlights of the album. Then again, anything which has Andre 3000 on it is going to be a success story. I also like the fact it’s only 1 and a half minutes long, it gives you that impression of blink and you’ll miss, as though Andre walked in, did that verse and walked out.

Pretty Sweet – 7/10
It starts off sounding like it could be a Speedin Bullet 2 Heaven B-side with those god awful strained string instruments provided from the orchestra but luckily they don’t last and the song takes more of a sane shape. Having said that, it’s still very much like an interlude with this ongoing harmony we hear and no sign of a clear and concise Frank verse so it does seem as though the song will dwindle into nothingness. The drop with about a minute to go does a lot to alter that view point and add a slight drum and bass twist to the song before ending with a children’s choir who beautifully closed an all round quite odd track. As I said before its nothing more than an interlude and a transitional song but even so it’s okay and has some nice dimensions to it which have been effectively placed.

Facebook Story – N/A/10
Yung Lean, telling a story, about a girl from Facebook, on a Frank Ocean album. Incredible moment. This girl is quite crazy I have to say, accusations of cheating because he didn’t add her on Facebook seems a bit extreme and perhaps shows the issues not only Frank but Lean himself has gone through in relationships that haven’t necessarily gone to plan. I mean there’s not much more to say about this one, it’s not a song really so I can’t give it a rating, nice touch though.

Close To You – ???/10
This song has an early 00s Garage vibe to it, it sounds like the sort of beat Craig David would gobble up on his Born To Do It album. At only 1 minute 26 seconds long, it’s hardly an epic but it has its spot and it’s worth on the album.
It’s a bit stop-start for my liking, however and I maybe could’ve done with a bit more clarity as to what the song was actually about. All its achieved in doing is making me slightly confused as to why those last two “songs” were featured.

White Ferrari – 6.5/10
A soft song all about coasting around in his, believe it or not, “White Ferrari.” I absolutely love the deeper tones of vocals he uses, making it sound more like he grovelling at the start of the song but once he changes it up he sounds crisp and brilliant. I also really like the backing track of literally just an acoustic guitar keeping in the background and allowing for Frank to use his own voice layered as an instrument, it’s really effective. For me the song does tail off a bit towards the end when he starts to lose the concept of the song and instead places a higher level of focus on this bizarre futuristic theme instead which is a shame given how far he could have potentially taken that car journey aspect. It is a nice song at its core but I can’t escape the wavy nature of it all and it gets confused within itself at times. Good song but nothing outstanding here.

Seigfried – 6.5/10
Not the most common sit name going so that gives you enough signals already. Frank’s vocals are haunting and powerful to the core, he has such soul in his tone he can make any song so strong and that’s exactly what he does here. A simple backing track of occasional key playing and guitar strumming becomes a great setup for Frank as he sings about his lifestyle and how he wants to go against society’s norms of “2 kids in the swimming pool” and states he’d rather “live outside.” It does, for me, sound like a cut off the most recent Radiohead album instrumentally just with some more powerful pipes at the forefront with Frank replacing Thom Yorke. The bridge saves this song, as it appears to be fading away Frank brings out an echoed rap about dreams which seems to overlap in concepts of dreams it’s fairly odd but perhaps gives you an insight into the twisted and frazzled mindset of Frank Ocean. The song does fizzle out eventually which is a shame because it’s a soft beauty at its best, but there are moments in this song which drag on far longer than they should. A hit and miss track really but the song’s positives are great.

Godspeed – 9/10
I think if any song on this album had the David Bowie influence then it’ll be this one, I understand he was mentioned in the feature list of producing and working on this album but nobody is really sure what capacity he worked on it. It’s a magnificent vocal performance which is full of soulful passion and heart. It suits with the organ and choir combination in the backing track brilliantly and makes for a truly beautiful sound. It’s got a real gospel sound to it as well as a synth pop vibe buried somewhere underneath the holy imagery. Beautiful track from start to finish this one, a powerful ballad which never once slows down in terms of quality.

Futura Free – 7/10
The longest song on the album at a whopping 9 minutes long, it’s a real ordeal to sit through all of this, especially given how strange it starts off where he’s rapping to his “mama” about all the things he’s doing now he’s famous, it’s a good verse when he gets into the swing of it, apart from when he talks about the size of a certain sexual organ of his, that bit is full and lasts far too long, which is quite ironic in a way. The whole song just seems crazy, it’s like a freestyle session at the end of a recording but in a way I kind of like that, it’s a raw and uncut insight into the process of Frank Ocean. I love the reference to old friend Tyler, The Creator “sleeping on my sofa” as a real nostalgia trip to show how far back they go as friends, and how it’s more than just the music which binds them together. The whole thing is a constant mix up between song and general recording which can throw you off guard at times. We then have a bizarre spout of silence before a snippet of an interview which then cuts into a soft beat, it dips in and out for a while, just insanity at times. I’m lost for words at that as a closing track, you feel like you need to re-evaluate everything and question what the hell you have just listened to. The song itself was good but everything else just seemed so pointless apart from the occasional lesson of friendship within the interview snippets.

Overall – 8/10
Right, I would try and be logical about this but I’d be kidding myself. In short, I don’t have a bloody clue what’s gone on with that album, all I do know is that I love it, I seriously love it and want to hear it again. I think that’s the hook he wanted, that intrigue and that mystery as to why he thought those elements would fit together and what he’s trying to say at certain times. From what I’ve gathered, he’s a very confused soul but an incredibly talented one and one who should be celebrated for this release because it was worth the memes and the wait. Please, if you haven’t already, listen to this album. It’s smooth, it’s soulful and it’s passionate while at the same time being completely bonkers and weirdly electronic.

Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis: Album Review

Biffy Clyro are a 3-piece rock group from Scotland who have been around in the music industry for just over a decade. They are now considered to be veterans of modern rock music and have sold millions of albums worldwide. Their breakout record was the 2006 release ‘Only Revolutions’ which contained smash hit songs such as ‘Mountains’ and the tear jerking ‘Many Of Horror’. They have followed that success one year upon year and gained one of the most hardcore and loyal followings music has to offer. Known for their phenomenal energy and live performances, it’s obvious to see why Biffy Clyro are one of the country’s biggest bands and why they are regularly headliners at big British festivals. With their new album ‘Ellipsis’, can Biffy continues their wonderful discography or will we see a dent in the armour of one of Scotland’s Giants? Either way, ‘Mon the Biff.

Wolves Of Winter – 10/10
Biffy are back with a bang. This is a serious contender for not only the best song of the year, but it’s right up there with the best songs Biffy Clyro have ever done. Gritty and energetic with such a dark and twisted element within the tone and subject matter, this is such a colossal hit. The true Scottish tint comes out in full effect in this song but it really works with the whole style of the song. I also love the backing vocals which add a brand new dimension to Biffy’s sound. I think what I love most about this song, though, is the change up from the heavy rocking and lively verse to a softer and catchy chorus, the individual bass string played in the chorus is so distinct and sharp it’s brilliant and matches perfectly with Simon Neil’s isolated vocals which discuss the successes of the band and how they’ve “achieved so much more than you possibly thought we could” which I think is a really cool and poetic line. There’s just so many layers I can’t keep up, all of them are absolutely fantastic though it’s just one brilliant aspect after another. The guitar solo is brilliant, the rhythm is fantastic, the vocals are exemplary whether they go high or low, just a wonderful track from start to finish.

Friends and Enemies – 8/10
A bit more of a pop sound to this one with a typical Biffy twist. It’s a bizarre one this because the melodies and the vocals fit the bill perfectly for a chart topping pop hit but the instrumental is heavy and rocky it’s a really cool mixture. A prime example of this is the twist up into the chorus which has a distinct and string guitar riff with a loud drum beat behind it. I do really like that combination, however and it makes for a really cool sounding track. The bridge is a really nice touch by adding the positivity of saying you’ll never meet “friends as good as you” with a children’s choir in the background. The song as a whole has a solid message behind it of friendship and loyalty as well as learning to forgive others for mistakes. In short, this is a great pop-rock anthem which combines the two genres very well indeed.

Animal Style – 8/10
Real old school sounding guitar riff, it sounds like something from an 80s punk band and when matched with the rest of the band it fits like a glove and makes a rocking hit. The pre-chorus and chorus itself is huge, I absolutely love the chanting style with those elongated tones as well as the clear distress and anger in Simon Neil’s voice as he curses on more than one occasion. It’s a real ‘arms in the air’ track as they hold that energy throughout the song and a fairly strong willed message. It’s unlike most songs we usually hear lyrically in that the words in fact say they are the person at fault rather than it being someone else who’s the “animal.” It’s a loud hit which is another winner for Biffy, especially that animal styled noise he makes at the end of the track which kind of sends the song off in style. Another banging track this one.

Re-arrange – 8.5/10
Softer, slower, more harmonious. On every single album Biffy Clyro do they have at least one song which pulls on the heartstrings and shows a real fragility and this is it for Ellipsis. The chorus is beautiful and melodic with its clever lyricism and smooth guitar chords. The lyrics of “I will never break your heart, I will only re-arrange” is an accurate suggestion of how real life relationships go, not a make believe fantasy that other artists portray and that’s what I like about these Biffy slow tracks, they’re real, raw and relatable. For me, this song shares a lot of similarities to Machines in that sense as we see a real fragility and weakness in Simon Neil as he sings it, every note sounds emotional and passionate. It’s just beautiful and really does the band’s traditions of having a slow hit a real favour, one of the best tracks on the album easily.

Herex – 8/10
A welcome return to a more rocking guitar riff and it really has a lot of hardcore edge to it. Despite this, the lyrics and vocals are soft and the tune is more of a swag style in the verses and the chorus which in itself is memorable and catchy. He is very clear in his delivery of the lyrics and really sharpens those words at times to make them sound powerful and effective. I really like the effect used in the chorus of what sounds like a synthesiser/keyboard tone to add a new and unique sound to the song. There’s a period in this song which has a smooth but bouncy chorus, a rocking guitar solo and an isolated strum which sounds uncannily similar to the start of ‘Biblical’, a track off their last album and this all comes within the space of about 20 seconds. Nonetheless it’s a really nice touch and a great showing of variety from the band. The softer element of the song in the bridge is calming and lovely and it progressively increases tempo into a ballad belter towards the end. Another great track, Biff are smashing it at the moment and really demonstrating that variety they have.

Medicine – 8.5/10
Innocence personified in a song, a weak and feeble Simon Neil sings over a weeping acoustic guitar about love and the damages it can cause, hence the title of the song. The chorus is again, catchy and melodic with a sentimental tone to it, a very relatable message within it for all those listening. Once again with this Biffy slow track, we get a real sense of the broken heart of Simon Neil and the journey he’s been on to get to where he is now, it’s like we follow him every step of the way and feel every emotion along with him. That’s a very rare skill which not many could do, but Neil manages to do it album after album, year after year. You can see this track being another Machines or Many Of Horror, with loyal fans of the band connecting to it spiritually and using it in their everyday lives. Beautiful again, not faultless, but still stunning at times.

Flammable – 6/10
Funky guitar this, it’s like an old school Red Hot Chili Peppers riff with that funk style twist. I also really love the chanting style in the pre-chorus which then cuts completely before a belting chorus which sadly doesn’t really deliver as we anticipate from the build up of the verse. It seems to float in between hard rock and softer pop and this time round the vocals just don’t seem to click with the backing track. Having said that, second time round, the chorus is great and gathers a lot more symmetry with the rest of the song which is a big plus for its overall rating. One of the shorter songs on the album and it’s probably for the best, it’s not really that memorable but there are still decent aspects to it, I do however wish they had stuck with that funk guitar we heard at the start, it would’ve been a great switch up from the Biffy Clyro norm. Look, it’s a decent song don’t get me wrong, but it’s far from special when comparing it to the standard of the other songs on this album.

On a Bang – 7/10
Short and snappy, this really does sound like it’s on a bang. It seems so broken up and stop-start which on the surface of it sounds awful and like the formula for a really poor song but it’s really not, I love it and I think it makes the song what it is. Pure passion on this one as he shouts and squeals from start to finish on a heavy instrumental. Another use of curse words is a sign of anger and frustration, clearly at this person who isn’t willing to “do better.” As I said it’s a fairly short song but it’s placement has a huge impact on the album with its energy and passion oozing throughout. It will be a hit in a live performance I’m sure of it and it is a good addition to the album as a whole. Energetic Biffy is always necessary on an album and this gives us that in abundance.

Small Wishes – 5.5/10
Not at all the style you’d associate with Biffy Clyro whatsoever, it sounds a bit country and has a Mumford & Sons tint to it. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad song, it has a nice jig to it and good vocals. Simon Neil tells a very good story within it too about a place full of animals and the beauty it holds. The one criticism I can have of this song is the limited switch up in the instrumental, it’s very same old from the get go and even if we do get a nice alteration of vocal pitch that doesn’t mean we can shy away from the fact that it’s a very repetitive backing track apart from in the bridge which has a small guitar solo and nothing more. It’s a track which shows once again that Biffy can leave no stone unturned in their discography, but maybe this is a slight bridge too far. Like it isn’t awful and there are moments I did enjoy, but I’d prefer a rocking anthem over this to be honest.

Howl – 7/10
This was the second single off this album and went down fairly well all things considered, it was a rocking hit with a catchy hook and chorus. The lyrics are memorable in places and the vocals are elongated and exaggerated in all the right places. It’s a good song which you can sway to while understanding the deep context of the track which is the struggles of a relationship and how Simon Neil will “never learn.” If I’m honest it does sound, minus the vocals, a bit like an early 00s cheesy American punk-pop hit from a band like Good Charlotte but that doesn’t mean it’s not bouncy and a decent song. Aspects of it do remind me a little bit of a classic Biffy song but it does still lack in some areas, I just think the cutting edge which would make this a fantastic song is missing so it’ll have to settle for being ‘good’.

People – 7.5/10
Heartwrenching violins and stringed instruments set the tone for this song which has a very mellow tune of devastation and heartache. It’s the tale of survival from adversity in love and in general life and it’s very powerful once again. There’s an apologetic theme in this song too which does seem to be the outlining concept of the whole album as Simon Neil feels guilty for something he may have done in a relationship, the actual context is a mystery but that much seems fairly solid. What’s crucial about this song is that the instruments are prominent and not dominant in the sense that you can hear them but they don’t drown out the vocals which are the focal point of the song. They are also a very good focal point so congratulations to Simon for that. It’s a good song with a warming yet also cooling of your heart in its message and strips Simon Neil down to his core, something which he’s never been afraid of doing before in more ways than just emotionally.

Don’t, Won’t, Can’t – 7.5/10
Really groovy indie track this one, bouncy guitar with a rhythmic drum beat and a catchy tune. I also absolutely love the electronics they use on this song such as the organ effect in the chorus which makes it all sound space age and futuristic, something which Biffy have never really ventured into before. The song title is a very fitting theme of the song itself which talks about the pessimism of this person who could achieve so much but never does, they’d much rather “be a part of the ground” which is a very cool piece of imagery with soaring sky high to greatness and the polar opposite of that being a sinking feeling into the ground. Good track this one, I like it a lot.

In The Name Of The Wee Man – 8/10
Backing vocals are mysterious from the off and put you into the mood for the song which itself is a moody and aggressive tune. Simon Neil alters his voice from smooth singing to a deep growl almost at some times when he seems it most necessary. The chorus is a cool switch up which is minor but still effective and it’s these minor changes which continue throughout the song and ensure we don’t get bored of the song and can happily listen to it in it’s entirety without complaint. It’s a decent hit this one a and a very strong way to end a very strong album, I love the complete fade out of instruments in a calming bridge before this explosion kicks back in with the drums taking control, massive way to grab the song initiative. So yeah, great work again.

Overall – 8/10
I love this album, I’ll 100% be going back to it for quite some time, there’s hardly any misses on this one, cover to cover its just great. Wolves Of Winter is colossal and for me, one of the band’s biggest and best songs, but they also show off their beautiful and wounded side in slow songs which we have plenty of here. The album theme appears to be apologies and relationships but they don’t make it dreary, it’s varied and just all round brilliant. Well done Biffy, this could be a worthy competitor to Only Revolutions as your best album to date.