Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony Review

Indie Rock 2.0 as many people call it; has very few bands that have grown from it. Progressed or simply changed. It’s very much a time limited sound. Limited to 2004. Pixelated pictures on your flip phones, chatting with your pals on msn while Simon Cowell having the bright idea to ruin the music industry through the guise of the X Factor instead of Pop Idol. Catfish and the Bottlmen have came too late to the ‘party’. The Strokes sent out the invites back in 2001 and everyone had replied by 2004. Even Johnny Borell. Somehow the North Wales group wish to revive the most simplest and dumbed-down form of Indie 2.0. Recycle the recycled until it spat out The Balcony. I have the most sincerest hope that the singles are for the kids or whatever. The sales. That the album actually has some depth and originality to it, but I doubt that will occur…

‘Pacifier’ has the typical rotating riffs with the little trail coming off it and the large, distorted strikes of the guitar over the top along with the cymbal-heavy percussion in some vague attempt to fill the sound. I could lose count at the numerous times this has been done since about 1993. Every influence I hear is coming from everything that had ran its course around seven years ago. The fact the seem to paint their influences on their foreheads is little comfort for it either. This sound has been worn down to dust now and if you want to plug your influences then do it with some creative twist please! That’s paying a better homage to them then blatantly mirroring them. What they do lack in creativeness and imagination, they make up for in energy and humorous confidence. I bet this track sounds great live or at a club and I’m sure they transfer this energy to their audience too, but in terms of advancing music in any way shape or form; they don’t with this track. ‘Fallout’ opens with the soft edged thump from the percussion and the simple strikes of the guitar before it jangles and jungles it’s way into the chorus and Van McCann’s impression of the Kooks trying to sound like The Strokes turns into more of a Johnny Borrell scream, which even Johnny Borrell wouldn’t be too impressed with. The guitars really don’t seem to have much, if any purpose and it’s only the crashing percussion that gives the song any signs of life. This track is even more unoriginal and beige-like than ‘Pacifier’ was and it makes the perceived arrogance of Van very unfounded. Bringing back it on point; this song has been plucked from 2004 and this is a song I might have enjoyed as a nine year old but come on… think for yourselves… nothing new or intriguing here and even the delivery is so tame. The only thing I can say is listen to ‘Pacifier’ as it’s a mild improvement.

‘Cocoon’ opens in a typical mindless thrashing fashion plucked straight from 2001. It then goes on to go about a floating piece of Indie pop and then a Mumford-like tumble on the bridge section and then back into the lethargic predictability of a swooning Indie chorus with the cascading riffs and the sweeping backing vocals. To be fair this is the closest to any musical creativity they’ve ever came notwithstanding the blatant guitar solo and stomp-like finish. The only way I can see if this is enjoyable is if you’ve been in a cave on mars with your fingers in your ears since 1984. ‘Kathleen’ has that well worn sharp riff which fades into an oh so typical vocal drone but does as if hit by lightning, some life awakens and even if it’s a blatant Casablancas impression; the delivery is faithful and the brief jolt of electricity appreciated. ‘Rango’ is that featherlike distortion of a mindless churn with the lead tying it up and it then goes on to slow down it’s riff before a machine like thump from the percussion that gives them permission to go at their guitars like no one ever has before that big finish. ‘Homesick’ looks to perhaps provide an ounce of ponder and consideration but in reality they are just waiting on the cheap rise and falls to make the Indie Anthem more prominent. You think some of their other tracks of which they are so very few, might have a hint of something but alas tracks like ‘Sidewinder’ or ‘Business’  offer up nothing. The album is basically a repackage of their singles so far with little effort into providing any more material. Maybe they’ve hit a dead end? The LAD type lyrics of the majority of tracks make this album even less appealing along with the painfully predictable lines about ignoring your friends about me etc. etc. Their PR have labelled them heroes of guitar music, but as far as I’m concerned they are it’s nemesis. Batting away any new ideas and showing guitar music to be plain and outdated, so the sooner that tag is dropped the better. One positive is that it can only get better from here. If they put their energy and confidence into making some new music. Just because he’s wielding a guitar, it does not immune them from being just as painful as the music in the charts it’s apparently the alternative to.

Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony = 3.5/10


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