Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride Review

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Since the release of their debut The Balcony in 2014, the quintessential indie kid has been head-banging to the ferocious alt-rock tunes of Catfish and the Bottlemen. If the quirky name didn’t draw you in, it was the formidable guitars, warbling vocals or unashamedly audacious lyricism that cracked you. Yet, a certain degree of the audience was disappointed with an album that unravelled to be merely a cocktail of sex and drugs and alcohol masked by thunderous instruments. However, since the release of the single Soundcheck, anticipation has been rising for their follow-up album The Ride.
Firstly, Catfish have got to be commended for sticking to what they know. Their extravagant success – such as winning Best British Breakthrough Act at this year’s BRITS – hasn’t seemed to phase them, as they continue to appear content producing tracks that highlight the sheer power of a humble guitar and vocals. Basically, they’re not the type to throw in a techno bass and say ‘Hey, look how with-the-times we are!’ And what they do with a few humble guitars and vocals is just as admirable. The choruses and instrumental sections have been noticeably enriched since The Balcony days, with guitars even more robust and blazing drums to make each number all the more arena-worthy. There’s a hint of hearty Oasis-ness in the tracks Oxygen and Heathrow particularly, versus the seething riffs explored in Soundcheck, Red and 7. There’s no doubt that energy and confidence seeps throughout the track list. There is a certain authenticity to this album; it sounds as though on Glasgow, Van McCann and his guitar have been recorded on the same microphone, not to mention the hint of sweet sincerity in the lyrics of the song, that include taking this track’s love interest “over the threshold”. At the same time, the band couldn’t resist adding further references to their omnipotent drunken state when they describe “falling home drunk”. Their continued worship of the aforementioned sex and drugs and alcohol undermines an album so instrumentally resilient. It forces me into avoiding taking this supreme indie force completely seriously. I appreciate the raw, real-life approach that it has on the songs, but I think it’s fair to say that two albums centred around the same droning topic can get a little wearisome.
Red is your archetypal Catfish crowd-pleaser. It opens with grungy guitars, almost quite Nirvana-esque, followed by deliciously blatant lyrics barked by McCann. An especially vigorous hook precedes a raging chorus, and Catfish demonstrate why they are top of the indie league. Juxtaposing this is the softer Heathrow, in which the lyrics actually describe a love with some substance, and evoke a touch of sympathy for McCann, who is “nothing much” compared to the girl he is striving for. A simple assembly of basic chords paired alongside heartfelt vocals makes for a pleasingly candid ballad, providing a harmonious break from the thrashing guitars.
Overall, The Ride has confirmed Catfish are gratified in making no-nonsense rock hits, guaranteed to make you smile. Their instrumental talent is unmistakable, yet their uncompromising subject matter does put the album on the verge of immature. But, whether you like it or not, Catfish and the Bottlemen – and their alcohol – are here to stay.

Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride = 6.5/10

Eleanor Chivers

 

Single Review – Catfish and the Bottleman – 7

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Catfish and the Bottlemen will release their second studio album The Ride on May 27th with a new single ‘7’ out this week. The track has a more industrious rhythm and progression and a sense of vocal fluency from Van McCann. Apart from a tighter set up, the sounds, production and lyrics are all throw aways being recycled to no end. From this, we can safely suggest that their new album will be full of basic improvments and minor tolerances. Hopefully they prove us all wrong, but don’t hold your breath.

 

 

Single Review – Catfish and the Bottlemen – Soundcheck

 

The band that has the accolade for one of the worst reviewed albums ever on this site (and we were comparatively kind) has returned with a new track from their upcoming second album ‘Soundcheck’. Catfish and the Bottlemen haven’t done much to hide the fact this song was released solely for promotion before the BRIT awards as they seek some form of recognition from their debut attempt The Balcony. This new single dropped the Razorlight copy aesthetic for a Stereophonics copy aesthetic with a more anthem-orientated style. The song does have a better sense of the variety of other rhythm sections and a better sense of production polishing too. This does little to distract from the distinct lack of substance that remains musically and lyrically. These lyrics delivered with Van McCann’s open snarls in the chorus. The smallest of minor improvements with this track.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Catfish And The Bottlemen – Cocoon

Someone obviously enjoys reading my rants about these guys so here I am again, to review their latest track ‘Cocoon’ from their upcoming album The Balcony. This time I hope they’ve stumbled across some originality, imagination or dynamism as opposed to every other piece of beige clad, guitar simplicity I’ve heard before. It 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. In desperation 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.

 

Single Review – Catfish and The Bottlemen – Fallout

This single came the way of my inbox and I noticed that this is apparently the hottest record in the world right now, according to Zane Lowe. That caught me off guard a little to say the least. Now I know that over the last few days that their behaviour has been controversial to say the least and some debates are still on going about them but regardless of whether you’re a feminist, a devoted believer in the band or whatever misconceptions of contradictions people want to throw at each other… Their actions are wrong and pretty derogatory. Plain and simple though I won’t let that be a judge on their music but given my review of ‘Pacifier’ last year then don’t expect a glittering endorsement.

The song 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 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 and even the delivery is so tame. The only thing I can say is listen to ‘Pacifier’ as it’s a mild improvement.