Album Review: Catfish and The Bottlemen – The Balance
Catfish and The Bottlemen’s have returned with The Balance which sees the band continue where they left off on their last record, the chart-topping The Ride with more personal tales of the difficulties of maintaining relationships while being on the road with more of the same rip-roaring anthems that has given them so much success so far.
It’s impossible to deny there is a lot of formula and similarities in each of the three Catfish record whether this be working with the same illustrator Tim Lahan, with each record right through from their platinum selling debut 2014’s The Balcony, with all the records having 11 tracks all with one word titles to each album ending abruptly out of nowhere with the records following the same personal narrative of front-man Van McCann’s journey from being a pissed-off teenager in a small rural Welsh town to becoming the face of one of Britain’s biggest bands, a time he reflects on the nostalgia filled ‘2all’ without losing his sense of relatablity.
There’s nothing wrong with the band sticking to their guns whether this be in a sonic sense or lyrical direction, although their sound isn’t what you’d describe as being complex but along with the simplicity comes an art, if it’s such a basic sound why have so many others fallen at the first hurdle? With the answer being McCann’s lyrics set the band apart from their counterparts.
Sonically the record isn’t worlds apart from its predecessors and The Balance is unlikely to win the band over to people who aren’t fans of their first two efforts but it will more than appease their masses of fans they’ve already earned who’ve helped get become the Arena conquering rockers they are.
JackKnife Lee produced the album with the recording split between rural Ireland and Lancashire, with the countryside setting inspiring their expansive sound which has been turned up a notch showing signs of progression from The Ride. Undeniably, their third record like all their work is bred to be played live during huge slots at festivals with the crowd singing their hearts out to every song with an overpriced pint of Tuborg in hand loving every moment.
‘Longshot’ kicks the record off in rip-roaring style and could well be the their finest hour to date proving that one thing that the Llandudno boys certainly know how to perfect is seismic choruses and sets the uplifting theme of the optimistic, hopeful record. ‘Sidetrack’ is another example of the band’s evolution with the stadium ready anthem showing just how they’ve grown over the last few years since they were playing pubs in the North West.
The record overall is pleasing and won’t leave Catfish fans feeling disappointed but it does ask questions about whether they will ever mix things up and experiment with new sounds. But, that’s not who they are and they stay true to themselves, making honest music the only way they know how.