Welcome to the albums that rocked our world over the past year. Disagree with our choices? You can vote your own favourites to the top, over on the Albums Of 2009 Reader Poll.

You'll also find our 50 tracks of the year here.

Plus, to read all-new reviews of the 50 best albums and tracks of the year, plus all the trends that defined the year, pick up the new issue of NME, on sale from Wednesday December 9.

50I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose

On paper, things don’t bode well for Bombay Bicycle Club: their curry house-inspired name implies a wacky and erroneous grasp of irony that wears a traffic cone for a hat; at their first gig they played funk songs to their school assembly; and the ink’s barely dry on their A2 certificates – which makes them as good as past it in comparison to Tiny Masters Of Today and their spritely green ilk.
Throw in the fact that producer Jim Abbiss was responsible for arguably the most significant British debut of the 21st century (Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’) and it would be reasonable to speculate that BBC are facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge with regard to proving their mettle.
But if ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ is the band’s Everest, not only do they conquer it with unassuming boyish romance, but they’ve also created the most poignant anthology of what it means to be young and restless in the city since fellow Londoners Bloc Party’s ‘Silent Alarm’ – though they’re a lot less frosty than Okereke et al.
‘Emergency Contraception Blues’ has the kind of title that’ll have Daily Mail hacks frothing at the mouth about lax sexual mores. But rather than peddle post-coital bravado, its sensitive shoegazey warmth and bluster burst forth from the momentarily blissful sensation of ignorance upon waking into the sound of tempestuous consequences, all My Bloody Valentine swooping synth albatrosses and brow-knitted walls of sound. It rumbles into ‘Lamplight’, where Jack Steadman’s voice quavers like Interpol’s Paul Banks or Devendra Banhart and is equally as beautiful as ‘Autumn’, their conjuring of young love (“These scattered flashes of delight, they can’t help but sway your mind” – though it’s evidently not to be), where jagged guitars stab as regret consumes his faltering voice.
Gorgeous as these fragile emotional explosions of songs are, it comes as something of a relief that BBC occasionally stay true to the record’s title, breaking out ‘Matinée’-era Jack Peñate pizzazz (thankfully, the only nod to their humble origins in funk) on ‘Always Like This’, following a minimalist introduction that’s clearly been worshipping at the temple of Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works’. ‘The Hill’ is an upbeat, rousingly distorted lament for days of carefree innocence atop Hampstead Heath, hungry but never mawkishly indulgent, calling on Greek mythology’s original teenage rebel, Icarus, to evoke the follies of youth (“We flew too high, to let the sun burn our wings”). It’s a shame that they’ve used the exact same version of the song as on their 2007 EP, ‘The Boy I Used To Be’ (as with ‘Cancel On Me’, and ‘Ghost’ from the ‘How We Are’ EP, save for an added 25 seconds of grungy Foals-like drumming), but the record coheres nonetheless.
That is, aside from on its closing number. After 11 tracks of effervescent fuzz and heart-wrenchingly urgent choruses, the resonating acoustic bass notes and sweet drum machine shuffle of ‘The Giantess’ could almost be an outtake from Grizzly Bear’s ‘Veckatimest’, less the harmonies. It’s totally uncharacteristic of the rest of the record – Jack’s voice sounds submerged deep underwater, and rises to the surface on expressive, billowing floor toms – but it’s a swooning, lovely closer that’s proof of a developing musical maturity.
A great philosopher once said, “Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing”. If you’re over the age of 18, consider ‘I Had The Blues…’ your invitation back to the heady rush of teenaged rapture, and the rest of you, stay drunk on its certain romance while you still can.
Laura Snapes
Buy I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose from Rough Trade

49Middle Cyclone

Neko Case has said she isn’t much fond of love songs, and when you hear the part-time New Pornographer berating the “fucking bird” that keeps her awake all night on ‘Magpies To The Morning’, her fifth album doesn’t bode well for romantics.
But, like a spot-lit chanteuse bred on punk rock, Case sweeps us up like her titular storm with loved-up odes to nature, intimacy and human resilience – just not in the dainty style of other indie gals-turned-country heroine.
She stalks about to creepy Americana, strides heart-on-sleeve and lungs a-pumping through ‘I’m An Animal’, ploughs a southern gospel furrow on ‘Middle Cyclone’ and her cover of Harry Nilsson’s ‘Don’t Forget Me’ distils the tenderness of the girl from the wrong side of town.
Chris Parkin
Buy Middle Cyclone from Rough Trade


Much like Starbucks, Bradford Cox has become a ubiquitous presence. What with his work with art-rock outfit Deerhunter, his involvement in Karen O’s official soundtrack for Where The Wild Things Are, and now this, his second solo offering under the Atlas Sound banner, you’d be forgiven for thinking that such familiarity will start to breed contempt. But you’d be way off the mark.
There are two things you should know about this unlikely lo-fi hero of gangly deportment (he has Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that stretches his limbs and strains his heart) and a girlish speaking voice (the affliction for this is yet uncertain). Firstly, it is impossible to dislike him (just see Wayne Coyne’s spoof argument with him on YouTube, branding Cox a “dick”). Secondly, his creative output has proved him to be one of – if not the – most forward-thinking and inspiring musicians of our generation.
So, as Cox takes time out from Deerhunter, along comes ‘Logos’. Less of an experimental minefield than its predecessor, ‘Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel’, it sees Cox weave in and out of dream-like sequences, such as the sombre ‘The Light That Failed’ and ‘Quick Canal’, the latter featuring the sweetly masculine vocal of Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier; while ‘An Orchid’ pitches in as the aural equivalent of a David Lynch storyboard, guided along with looped noises and whimsical vocals.
It’d be easy to overlook Cox’s lyrics when the soundscapes are this rich and ornate, but there’s a delicate exploration of the most human of sensibilities and yearnings on ‘Logos’. He opens up the emotional vaults on ‘Sheila’, pining softly that “no-one wants to die alone… we’ll die alone together”. Likewise with ‘My Halo’, where Cox reveals “My halo burned a hole in the sky/My halo burned a hole in the ground… so I wait for polarity to change”. There’s much warmth and playfulness to be found here too, the unfeigned honesty and childlish desires expressed on ‘Walkabout’ – featuring the falsetto of Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox – with its lyric “What did you want to see?/What did you want to be when you grew up?” being a case in point.
Cox may have tagged Atlas Sound as just another side-project, but ‘Logos’ is a clear indication that his solo creative output is just as richly rewarding as what came before.
Ash Dosanjh
Buy Logos from Rough Trade

47Dance Mother

If newness is your thing – new sounds, new style, new attitude – then ‘Dance Mother’ is for you. This is a record that sounds like 2009 for the chief reason that it doesn’t sound like anything else that’s come before it. Both serene and schizophrenic, pretentious and pop, the debut album from Brooklyn’s Telepathe – aka musical (and formerly romantic) partners Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais – doesn’t so much mash together genres as drift in limbo among them.
Floating between crystalline electronica, misty shoegaze and ass-shaking club-rap, ‘Dance Mother’ is disorientating by design; like being set down on some unfamiliar street corner where the drone of synth from a nearby window meets the boom of bass from a passing car, and snippets of overheard conversation hang in the air like cryptic incantations.
More than any other outfit since TV On The Radio, Telepathe illustrate the modern hipster condition: why choose between Lil Wayne, Animal Collective, Madonna and My Bloody Valentine, when you can have all of it, all at once? The main peril of this approach is information overload: or, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Thankfully for Telepathe, they have a helping hand in the shape of TVOTR’s Dave Sitek, who knows a little about such synthesis. ‘Chrome’s On It’, a popping future R&B number that finds Busy and Melissa pulling goofy, Missy-like rhymes over glimmering synth and tumbling electronic drums, does it best.
Similarly great is ‘Lights Go Down’, lolloping Arabic melodies and laser gun pee-yows that survey hometown peers Gang Gang Dance through a curved mirror. Deeper in, though, there’s moments that gel less well. ‘Trilogy – Breath Of Life, Crimes And Killings, Threads And Knives’ is seven minutes of dancing violins, dubstep bass, and continual left turns that, while brave, feels oddly unengaging. That’s a feel that blights ‘Dance Mother’ here and there, and while you leave charmed by their inventiveness, it’s hard not to want more moments like ‘In Your Line’, a song of fading love born up on flickering synthesizer that, for all its soft textures, keeps its aims in crisp focus.
Busy and Melissa have made a record that shimmers with possibilities, mapping out an alien territory that’s eerily inviting. Now it’s time to build on it.
Louis Pattison
Buy Dance Mother from Rough Trade

46Grey Britain

The last time a flame-haired iconoclast found himself at the forefront of British punk, he coined a timeless phrase: “anger is an energy”. Energy is a useful thing; it alters its circumstances and inspires its surroundings. And this is the frustrating thing about the often-great second album from Gallows, and our generation’s ginger-savant, Frank Carter. ‘Grey Britain’ has important things to say, but due to the lack of any direction or mission, it allows itself to be eaten up by the anger that fuels it.
The country portrayed in ‘Grey Britain’’s broad concept is so fucked it isn’t even worth saving. This isn’t anything as simple as a left-wing agenda. The usual corporations, complicit governments and corrupt churches all come in for a pounding, but there’s an uncomfortable whiff of the reactionary too. Kids, if they’re not having kids themselves, are waving knives at other kids. Parents, if they’re not scamming the dole, are probably using those kids as drug mules. And anybody who isn’t involved in this cycle is complicit simply by allowing it to happen, and so just as guilty.
Meanwhile, Gallows seem to have been made angrier by their own success and subsequent portrayal as punk cartoons. And to push them over the edge is the chorus of punk purists waiting to tear them down for signing to that major for a rumoured million pounds.
‘Grey Britain’ is the sound of what happens when you wind all that ire up and let it explode. Knowing they needed to tear out something special, they drafted in GGGarth, the man behind Rage Against The Machine’s explosive debut.
What’s so impressive is how he manages to channel all this force into the shape of a landmark record. This is still rooted in hardcore, but the flair and flourish is pure metal. For a major label debut, it’s brave indeed to go several notches fiercer than last time on the nuclear-powered likes of ‘Black Eyes’ or ‘I Dread The Night’. And if the bludgeoning of apparently holy men on ‘Leeches’ lurches towards melody, and if ‘Misery’ begins with piano and strings, the album’s pure-punk second act is both classically ferocious and unremittingly grim (“I wanna kill myself just for relief”).
Elsewhere, two-part single ‘The Vulture’ begins with a genuinely plaintive-sounding Frank singing over acoustic guitar with real delicacy, and ‘Graves’ finds Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro turning up for the most terrifying episode of harmonising you ever heard.
Yes, ‘Grey Britain’ has all the makings of a classic work. Yet for all its bravery and invention, it lacks the heart and vitality of their debut – those qualities substituted for mere fire and unremitting venom.
It’s not until the very end, the sweeping, militaristic dirge ‘Crucifucks’, that we get anything approaching the scent of salvation. As pounding drums give way to sirens, which give way to nothing, it’s left to Frank to croak with what sound like the final breaths of life: “Let’s fucking start again”. By that point you barely have the will to listen to music again, let alone effect a revolution.
The last time an album this unremittingly grim had such a shot at the mainstream jugular it was called ‘The Holy Bible’. As bleak as that was, it was also shot through with a vivacious, er, gallows humour. There’s none of that here, and they’d argue that this is the point.
But if the world that Gallows depict is even half-accurate, it’s not one you’d want to live in. And it’s doubtful you’d want to listen to its soundtrack many times either.
Dan Martin
Buy Grey Britain from Rough Trade

45Truelove's Gutter

What a curious, quietly glorious kind of British institution Richard Hawley has become. Like fellow Steel City legend Jarvis Cocker, you’d be hard pushed to find anyone with a nasty word to say about him.
He is, of course, adored by an ever-growing group of people, as many young as old, all in search of something comforting and timeless rather than momentarily thrilling. Nine years now we’ve been privy to his songs – both personal without being “me me me!” and universal without ever resorting to trite sentiment. Music as far away from fashion, as devoid of bullshit as it’s possible to be.
‘Truelove’s Gutter’, his sixth album, is his most musically adventurous to date, featuring as it does an array of strange instruments including a waterphone, megabass and a crystal baschet (look ’em up), plus a song – the closing ‘Don’t You Cry’ – that clocks in at over 10 minutes. However, it is far from ‘experimental’. The sounds are alien, certainly, but the combined effect is to provide a spacious backdrop in the vein of Mercury Rev’s ‘Deserter’s Songs’ or ‘Scott 4’ for that gorgeously fragile baritone of his.
There is sometimes a danger, when artists such as Hawley embrace new instrumentation, of their subtlety and identity being swamped. Not so here.
Everything, from opener ‘As The Dawn Breaks’, through the hopelessly romantic ‘Open Up Your Door’ and the marvellously titled, regret-strewn ‘Remorse Code’ (another song just under 10 minutes), unmistakably bears his classicist hallmarks: that there is a song entitled ‘Don’t Get Hung Up On Your Soul’, and another called ‘Soldier On’ should clearly signify to you a common ground with all of Hawley’s best work. Put simply, it is all about him and his own situation, but at the same time easily, instantly relatable to anyone’s.
One imagines that this is far from the last Richard Hawley album, and also that none of them will deviate further than this one – the one where he was given carte blanche by his label to make the album he always wanted – from his formula.
Too much is often made of the need for artists to ‘progress’, when really all they need to do is find their voice and express themselves as purely and as honestly as possible.
Hawley is most certainly doing that, and long may he continue to do so.
Hamish MacBain
Buy Truelove's Gutter from Rough Trade

44Rated O

It’s interesting enough that Oneida spent the first decade of their existence being a so-so rock band before transforming into a mind-blowing vessel of the spectacular, like Supergrass waking up one morning as Led Zeppelin.
Then if you consider the partial insanity that has led them to release the second instalment of their interstellar psych-rock triptych ‘Thank Your Parents’, which is in itself a treble album, well, that really is something.
But the fact that this mad man’s breakfast is actually nothing short of jaw-dropping should be the cause of spontaneous mass copulation in the streets. Opener ‘Brownout In Lagos’ explores the territory between dubstep, ragga, Spacemen 3 and Hawkwind.
And then it really gets strange...
John Doran
Buy Rated O from Rough Trade

43Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

Still louche, still dancing, but this time they’re showing off some new moves Album number one: “music to make girls dance”. Album number two: “music for girls to cry to”. Album number three, in your own (abridged) words Mr Kapranos? “Music of the night: for the dancefloor, flirtation, for your desolate heart-stop, for losing it and loving it, for the chemical surge in your bloodstream… for that lonely hour rocking yourself, waiting for dawn and it all to be even again”. It’s been whispered in hushed tones that ‘Tonight…’ – three years, several producers and one grimy Glaswegian recording space in the making – is loosely a concept album based around an epic night out. So what does the third coming of Franz bring us? Well, for a night out, it offers us a pretty inauspicious start.Current single ‘Ulysses’ is, sad to say, more music to run a bath to than anything else. That start – it’s just so fucking slow. Even for their horizontally laid-back strut it’s slow. It drags itself into earshot on broken-limbed drums while Alex himself whispers “I’m bored”. Drop it into the club mix after a big one and despite the eventual huge chords and valiant “la-la-la”s, you can see the lifeblood drained mercilessly out of the dancefloor’s and pumped into a slosh bucket in the bogs while hundreds of attention-mugged energy addicts slope off to make out. At least ‘Take Me Out’ got you hooked on its speed before it dropped to the pedestrian funk of the second half. ‘Ulysses’ cries out with lustful anguish to be untied from the mast and ruthlessly ravaged by some remix sirens and restored to the speed it deserves. So it’s kind of fortunate that they put the song up on beatport.com for you to do exactly that. Ramp up the RPM, people. However, ‘Tonight…’’s opener – and the throwaway Franz-by-numbers track that excuses itself straight afterwards (‘Turn It On’) aside – this is an exceptional record. It’s the sound of four reunited brains of considerable expertise locked into the permanent gloom of a Victorian town hall and forced to stare at the hypnotic psychedelic swirls of the room’s carpet until their disparate ideas gravitate into something cohesive. Of pitch-black recording sessions, human bone percussion and microphones hanging from the ceiling. With Girls Aloud’s Xenomania producer Brian Higgins trialled and found to be an error, Franz thumbed through the producer-du-jour handbook, alighting on Dan Carey. The man who’s had us shaking a fist and making love to DFA in previous years knows a thing or two about netting the ideas of our more inventive songwriters and packaging them as perfect night-out fodder and the fruits of this partnership is no exception. Take ‘Send Him Away’, which rips a galloping spacey prog riff wholesale from somewhere we just can’t quite place (it’s on the porch of plagiarist proximity to Black Lace’s ‘Superman’ but it’s not that – answers on a postcard please, seriously) before unfolding into a handclapped zig-zag of danceable fun. ‘Bite Hard’, meanwhile, might start like Elvis Costello singing at a wake but soon enough rips into classic Franz bent to the beat of the blues and sounds at one point like Spacehog (remember them?). ‘Twilight Omens’ is another otherworldly pop shuffle with an almost porno keyboard riff midway that’s brought down only by its brevity.
Continuing the bus-to-town section, ‘Live Alone’ will have you in your chair watching your two feet doing syncopated blastbeats as if suddenly possessed by the ghost of Tony Williams; God knows what effect it will have when it makes its way to the clubs. Its bedrock is the funky elasticity of The Virgins on tranqs but piled atop are synths that wobble from epic ’70s sci-fi to bedroom digitalism. Lie back and listen and watch the TOTP2-style psychedlic light filters drip across the inside of your eyelids. They have to allow this its own release.
During what must be the Club Suite, ‘Tonight…’ parachutes Franz into completely new genre territory. ‘Can’t Stop Feeling’ opens with their favourite new synth sound (the electronic farting so prominent on ‘Ulysses’) and comes across more like a tribal dance record, an Aztec party track for NYE 2020. Then there’s the near-eight-minute epic ‘Lucid Dreams’. Wake up five minutes in to this and you’d swear you were curled up by Justice’s feet as they splice together bowel-bothering synths and Terminator 2 steely construction noises to a packed Fabric. Except done live. It’s one we’d really like to see DJs muster the cojones to play out. Obligatory ballad ‘Katherine Kiss Me’ sees sunrise roll round at the end of the album, but we’d advise not getting too jazzed up previously so you can pass out before this.
This might not be the ‘music of the night’ that rotund talent show type Lloyd Webber and his phantoms had in mind, but based on the majority of this album Messrs Kapranos, Hardy, McCarthy and Thomson can definitely take us out tonight.
Tim Chester
Buy Tonight: Franz Ferdinand from Rough Trade

42Walking On A Dream

OK, let’s just spear the elephant in the room: Empire Of The Sun are really, really like MGMT. This Sydney duo (duo!) have arrived bearing blissful psych-pop with visions of a New World Order Of Shagging For Peace siphoned directly from the Wesleyan College acid pool. You get the same nasal vocals and, right from opener ‘Standing On The Shore’, the hippy dribble flows freely too: “The future’s in my hands/I hold it in my palms/Engrave it in the leylines running/Right down her arms”.
When acts score big, labels rush to present similar acts in their wake and Virgin are clearly showing off the ‘new MGMT’. Publicity shots show Empire’s Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore dressed as a Chinese space-wizard and Lando Calrissian’s bowling partner respectively. Such psychedelic homoeroticism continues in the video for new single ‘We Are The People’, where the boys throw mystical shapes in the jungle and sing about “A force running in every boy and girl” with the result looking like MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’ video recreated by French and Saunders.
Which is where we can begin to separate the two: Empire are funnier.
Daring to look silly is a fine quality in a musician, mind. Bowie, Iggy, even Slade took the risk and triumphed, and Empire could pull it off too – if your songs are good enough, no-one will call you a dick. The ludicrousness of ‘We Are The People’ and ‘Walking On A Dream’ doesn’t stop them from being sensational. Both have sunshiny choruses which hook into your perineum and drag you upwards, with ‘Walking On A Dream’’s mantra of “We are always running for the thrill of it, thrill of it” marking it as their ‘Time To Pretend’.
This is no hopping on the tie-dyed bandwagon, though: Steele is the talented and temperamental frontman of The Sleepy Jackson, the Aussie alt.rock group whose 2003 album ‘Lovers’ provides the template for Empire: seductive melodies, memorable hooks and (pre-VanWyngarden!) those ethereal vocals. Littlemore is a member of Pnau, whose trippy tribal pop also feeds directly into this side-project. Together, they’ve written an inspired succession of songs which transcend any marketing angle and whose musical origins precede MGMT. So there.
If both occupy the same island, Empire are on the side with the hot springs. ‘Standing On The Shore’ conjures up a beach party where Hall & Oates play volleyball against David Byrne and James Murphy. ‘Half Mast’ is a Balearic dream with a sublime chorus that simply goes, “Oh, oh, honey I need you ’round, I know”. When the sun sets, spaceships light up the sky and Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack echoes across ‘The World’, a meditation on that whole death thing which still manages to sound like The Thin White Duke in a good mood. Indeed you could call the whole album ‘‘Low’ By The Sea’, such is its warm take on surrealist grandeur; ‘Tiger By My Side’ is both disturbing and dancey and ‘Without You’ is a Bowie-esque tragedy referencing ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Vienna’.
And that’s the thing with Empire Of The Sun: they’re silly but their songs demand to be taken seriously, just like Prince, Ultravox and Bowie. And yes, they’re like MGMT – in that they’re great.
Martin Robinson

41Only Revolutions

"Stomp, stomp, stomp, s-stomp, s-stomp". With what could well be an applaud-worthy vision of self-awareness-turned-sound-effect Biffy Clyro’s fifth album, carrying more expectational weight than Greek god Atlas could hope to keep off the canvas, begins with the clatter of galloping foot-patter getting louder and louder, nearer and nearer.
Can you hear it? It’s here! Biffy finally make that sprint-burst into the rock stratosphere and trample over the competition like badly tattooed elephants smashing through dead branches. Well, that’s the idea, anyway. But is ‘Only Revolutions’ really the album that consolidates the forward progress the Ayr trio made with their flawed but tune-packed 2007 breakthrough album ‘Puzzle’? The stone-cold rock cracker their early art-rock leanings clearly had the potential to shape-shift into? It bloody well is, you know.
Not that you’d guess from opener (and new single) ‘The Captain’. Oh no, the initial fear of those not already head-over-beard in love with the band – that their approach to orchestra-bulking usually results in a fatal case of too-much-clatteritis – appears to have reared its head again. The song is so bluster-wrapped in strings it almost cheese-wires itself to death. Thankfully the chorus, if possessing a touch of the Jimmy Eat World about it, is big enough to slacken them.
Listen to ‘Puzzle’ opener ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’. It has a worthy gravitas having been inspired by the death of frontman Simon Neil’s mother, of course, but Lord, those strings stab. Yikes! STAB! STAB! STABSTABSTABSTAB!… STAB!…STABSTABSTAB! Laughably ridiculous, they’d be funny if they didn’t make you cringe-curl-up like a salted slug. But if ‘The Captain’ is a bit OTT – you’re allowed to be on the opener, no? – it’s like nothing else on ‘Only Revolutions’, thankfully, on which deft strings (deft strings! Not lashed about like a bow tie-sporting conductor with a cat’o’nine tails!) duck and dive under the likes of ‘Know Your Quarry’, gently lifting Neil’s yearny choruses rather than blustering them over a cliff.
Older single ‘That Golden Rule’ too, as you’ll know (it hit Number 10 in the charts), relies on little more than its Nirvana-sired breakdown chorus, while the subtler ‘Bubbles’ floats in with a Kings Of Leon-ly guitar clang before the kind of needly riff the band first experimented with on ‘The Ideal Height’ from ‘The Vertigo Of Bliss’. Josh Homme guests, and it’s the best thing he’s played on in years; years to come, too, if the tunes Them Crooked Vultures are peddling are anything to go by.
‘Many Of Horror’ is a perfect rock ballad, while ‘Born On A Horse’ sees Biffy go where they’ve never gone before. No, not the barber’s – to somewhere overtly funky, side-project Marmaduke Duke’s toe-tap influence wriggling its way into these chaps’ Y-fronts to help them create, if not another yowl-chorus up there with ‘Mountain’ or ‘That Golden Rule’, something more stop-start strutty than all of them (and another chance for Neil to yabber about horses – he’s obsessed).
All these moments are the jigsaw pieces that finally do complete the puzzle for Biffy, as it were, but it’s as a whole that ‘Only Revolutions’ springs the band instantly level with the greatest rock acts in the world. The only thing that can stop them being recognised as such is the 2010 trend of UK guitar music being treated with contempt by the electro-pop-fixated mainstream. But don’t call them a band out of time – they’re the very sound of loud now, and finally it’s time for the last few stragglers to get in the saddle.
Jamie Fullerton
Buy Only Revolutions from Rough Trade

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