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CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN The Balance gets 5.5/10


Known for their classic 2000s sounding indie tunes, Welsh four-piece Catfish and the Bottlemen‘s third album The Balance brings just that, but the problem is, it sounds exactly the same as their previous albums. All the songs blend into one another, with no variation in writing formula used by the band.

While there are a few differences on this album, like the slightly darker sound readily heard on Longshot and Fluctuate, a larger focus on the bass (highlighted on 2all and Basically)and an overall improvement on the guitar work with cooler solos and different sounds, The Balance unfortunately sounds too much like their previous work, which takes away from the enjoyment factor of the album.

Longshot is the opening song, and also the lead single from the album, and provided a great indication of what to expect. Fluctuate had already been heard by many fans, as Catfish and the Bottlemen had included it in their live set for a while before they even announced the album (they even played it at Falls Festival in January). So these two tracks weren’t much of a surprise to fans, and it was great tracklisting to put these two first on the album to start listeners off with something familiar.

Conversation is quite boring, but Sidetrack provides some nice guitar work in each of the verses, whilst Encore is easy to envision in the live set, as it seems the perfect song for singer Van McCann’s signature hip-swaying. It has some of the better lyrics on the album and has nice phrasing and a lovely melody.

In what seems like an ode to their debut album, Intermission incorporates an echoey sound which harks back to Hourglass from The Balcony. Just like Hourglass, it takes on the role of being the album’s token slow track, but it just isn’t as good and ends up sounding monotone.

In what is extremely frustrating tracklisting, the song following Intermission is titled Mission. Why? Besides that, Mission has a lot of tempo changes and will be another great live track alongside Encore. In Coincide, some lyrics don’t quite fit the melody, which is also frustrating.

The album ends on Overlap which starts slow and builds up similar to Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out. Unfortunately this album closer just isn’t as great as their others, it includes a weird time change, and their signature cut-off ending happens mid-word, which is just annoying more than anything and doesn’t leave you wanting more, as we assume was intended.

While the guitar and bass work has definitely improved, there are no standout lyrics like on previous Bottlemen albums, and there are no songs that really stand out and grab your attention. There is no change and no innovation, and while this can work for some bands, the four-piece aren’t going to be able to get away with it for much longer. While these songs will all still work extremely well live, in fact, they are perfect for the bands’ arena-sized shows all over the world, they just sound too alike and a little boring when stuck next to each other on an album. Sorry lads, but you can’t just release the same thing over and over again.

If you’re going to listen to Catfish and the Bottlemen, just listen to The Balcony, all the other albums are the same anyway, and the other albums just can’t fill you with that same joy.

KIERRA POLLOCK

 

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