You won't ever understand the ins and outs and/or the workings of the music industry, but one thing is certain, Biffy have had record label issues. This quandary resulted in their signature on a different contract with 14th Floor Records
(home to Damien Rice and Ray LaMontagne amongst others) -- a subsidiary of Warner. Initially I met this news with nothing short of sheer excitement and smiling at the prospect of a new Biffy album finally on the cards.
How I was wrong.
The new Biffy album is complete, of that there is no doubt. Zane Lowe admitted as much when he interviewed them earlier in February
during their Maida Vale session. From a band who used to release an album a year, with a sing-song writer who "shits out a song every five minutes" (according to James), this hasn't quite hit the "disappointing" mark, but it's nearing that.
Why are we left with no choice but to wait until May for the release of Puzzle? In the meantime, I've paid for the download of semi-mental (a track with enough DRM to prevent me listening to it on my mp3 player), I've seen the band live, and there seems to be a weekly interview with them in some publication, together with daily rotation on Radio 1 of their forthcoming single; Saturday Superhouse.
Anyone would think that this would be good news, surely it's a sign of a band on the rise, a band who are coming into their own and are finally in a position of power. To me, I don't see it that way. Saturday Superhouse is a staggered release, i.e. it is being released as a download only single (with the same DRM no doubt), and then a few days later we see the release of the actual physical version. Why couldn't they do it all at once? This seems like a method of acquiring more cash, kids are likely to purchase it as soon as it becomes available, and then buy the single for that extra b-side. Biffy fans are pretty hardcore after all.
This is accompanied by the ability to download a live version of Saturday Superhouse recorded at a live venue near you. The idea is that you can download the live version of the song from any date on the Kerrang Tour, presumably the one you attended. Why? And why should you pay for it?
By the end of this, there will be a download-only single, a physical single, the various vinyl singles and the live singles.. all of the same track -- a track which although is excellent, is not the Biffy of old. This is clearly a money making enterprise on the part of the label, and it heralds a new age for Biffy, one where they will undoubtedly scale new heights of success, but at what cost?
My loyalty to the band is unquestionable, I've been a fan from the start, but it seems that the fans are losing out here and being treated as individuals from whom the record label can obtain more money.