Upon hearing that Scotland's Biffy Clyro had supplied the soundtrack to the 2019 indie film Balance, Not Symmetry, one might assume it would result in a largely instrumental album with a few of the band's dynamic rock tunes peppered throughout. In actuality, what we get is the exact opposite. Taking inspiration from director Jamie Adams' film about an aspiring painter studying at the Glasgow School of Art who is forced to reevaluate her life in the wake of her father's unexpected death, Biffy Clyro have crafted a compelling album full of singer Simon Neil's passionate vocals that works as a worthy follow-up to any of their previous albums. There are certainly a handful of instrumentals here, including the delicate, piano-driven "Pink," the moody "Yellow," and synthy "Navy Blue," which find the band offering their own inventive take on incidental background movie music. Primarily, the album features many of the stylistic hallmarks that have made the band one of the more interesting and unpredictable alt-rock acts of their generation, including mutative prog rock songcraft, infectious choruses, and hard-hitting riffs juxtaposed with thoughtfully emotive pop lyricism. There's an undercurrent of classic '70s and '80s pop to many of the songs here as "All Singing All Dancing" brings to mind some of Heart's more radio-friendly '80s fare, while "Fever Dream" moves from synthy Alan Parsons-esque art pop to an explosive screamo rock ending. Similarly, the organ-accented "Plead" starts out as a slow jam R&B ballad before culminating in crashing heavy metal fanfare. Elsewhere, Biffy Clyro offer the driving rock of "Sunrise," the folk power anthem "The Naturals," and the hooky kineticism of "Tunnels and Trees."
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar