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Catfish and the Bottlemen - The Balance (Album Review)

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 Written by Graeme Marsh

Prior to the release of Catfish and the Bottlemen’s second album, 2016’s ‘The Ride’, frontman Van McCann didn’t holding off on singing its praises. Needless to say, it wasn’t quite as brilliant as he was making out, although the public seemed to like it and elevated the LP to the top of the UK chart. It also made the top 30 in the US, which is no mean feat.

McCann hasn’t been so vociferous this time round, perhaps feeling no need for extra self-promotion after their breakthrough and with famed producer Jacknife Lee (U2, R.E.M.) on board for the recording process in Ireland.

‘The Balance’ starts off in typical Catfish fashion with lead single Longshot. From the very first line, McCann’s vocal performance mirrors so much of what has gone before—one lyric delivered in a laid back, low-key style and the next in a more vigorous almost-shout.

Coupled with the band’s decision to persist with a stop/start pace throughout a song, there’s a nagging feeling early on that they’re lingering in a familiar place. Longshot is not a bad song—it boasts a decent chorus—but haven’t we heard this all before?

The singles then keep on coming, in release order. Fluctuate’s rapid verses, slower bridge and even slower chorus reveal their favourite song structure, and that infuriating trait of avoiding one pace for an entire song, but another solid hook offers some respite. 2All and also Conversation follow the same old blueprints.

“Basically, I do this all the time,” McCann sings during Basically, hitting the nail on the head. It’s almost as though they’re mocking their audience with so many songs built within an identical framework. Again, it’s not that it’s terrible, rather that it’s all too samey. There isn’t a single moment on ‘The Balance’ where the listener is rocked back on their heels by something unexpected.

Overlap bears similarities to Franz Ferdinand, with those stop/start urges impossible to leave out it seems. Mission and, in particular, Sidetrack are home to great choruses, with the latter providing the biggest highlight of all.

Aside from an undeniably loyal fanbase, ‘The Balance’ is likely to leave most listeners bored. Catfish and the Bottlemen appear set in a mould that they can’t break out of, and even their insistence on using single word song titles is now becoming tiresome. Their sound hasn’t really matured since their debut and, despite maintaining a consistent standard, they’re not reaching the next level.

Catfish And The Bottlemen Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue April 30 2019 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Thu May 02 2019 - BRIGHTON Centre
Sat May 04 2019 - COVENTRY Ricoh Arena - Ericsson Indoor Arena
Sun May 05 2019 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Tue May 07 2019 - SHEFFIELD FlyDSA Arena Sheffield
Wed May 08 2019 - MANCHESTER Arena
Sat July 13 2019 - GLASGOW Green
Sun July 14 2019 - LONDON Gunnersbury Park
Mon November 04 2019 - BIRMINGHAM Arena Birmingham
Tue November 05 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Utilita Arena
Sun November 10 2019 - LIVERPOOL M&S Bank Arena
Mon November 11 2019 - LEEDS first direct Arena

Click here to compare & buy Catfish And The Bottlemen Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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