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Catfish And The Bottlemen - The Ride (Album Review)

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

Some 18 months on from the release of their successful, if unspectacular, debut album, ‘The Balcony’, Catfish and the Bottlemen are back. Its follow-up, ‘The Ride’, arrives after the summer of 2015 found the band becoming festival mainstays, with little doubt remaining about their prowess in the live arena. 

‘The Ride’ is carried on the back of a promise from frontman Van McCann that the new album is “miles better” than their first, even if its stated aim is to remain firmly “inside the box”. Duly, there’s a lot of similarity from start to finish here, barring two minimalist acoustic numbers in Glasgow and the vastly superior Heathrow.

There’s a familiar formula being followed: upbeat, bouncy verses appear one after another before catchy choruses kick in either side of a mini guitar solo.The subject matter frequently revolves around relationships old, new and wannabe.

McCann has declared his dislike of “face-melting” six string breaks but, given his talents, perhaps the occasional extension of Johnny Bond’s contributions would do little harm in breaking up the repetitive structures.

The first five tracks are Catfish-by-numbers, with Bond’s work on the single Soundcheck providing the biggest highlight early on. With McCann having previously shown an appreciation for Arctic Monkeys and Oasis, it’s probably no surprise that the band occasionally attempt to emulate their favourite peers, too.

Twice hints at this by utilising a Monkeys-like chorus prior to moving into Oasis territory, but Oxygen takes it one step further, being an Oasis stomp with a guest vocalist in all but name. The closing track, Outside, is a decent stab at the anthemic but, by some distance, Red is the finest offering here courtesy of a thrilling chorus and simple yet effective solo.

If nothing else, ‘The Ride’ confirms that Catfish are no casual passers-by. While missing any truly standout moments, it’s a document of a band heading in the right direction and perhaps represents a stepping stone to something that genuinely is that much better.

Catfish And The Bottlemen Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat June 25 2016 - BRISTOL Lloyds Amphitheatre
Fri July 08 2016 - MANCHESTER Castlefield Bowl
Sat November 05 2016 - DERBY Arena
Sun November 06 2016 - BOURNEMOUTH BIC
Wed November 09 2016 - MANCHESTER Victoria Warehouse
Thu November 10 2016 - MANCHESTER Victoria Warehouse
Sun November 13 2016 - GLASGOW SECC
Tue November 15 2016 - LONDON SSE Arena Wembley
Thu November 17 2016 - COVENTRY Ricoh Arena

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